Friday, July 4, 2014
Freedom, sacrifice, and the American spirit ...
The 4th of July is the quintessential American day, truly a day worthy of being celebrated by the people of this great nation. We live in a land that not only provides us with freedom, but still to this day remains the greatest beacon of liberty and hope of freedom for people around the world
Being so greatly blessed with this freedom, it's important we not forget the price originally paid to gain our standing as a country of free people. The signing of the Declaration of Independence by our founding fathers did not immediately, or easily, establish a great republic. It was, instead, the start of a fierce struggle to forge a nation that would become the United States of America.
Kenneth L. Dodge, writing in Resource, highlights just a few of many sacrifices made by our founding fathers:
"Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence. Their conviction resulted in untold sufferings for themselves and their families. Of the 56 men, five were captured by the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army. Another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the war. Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships sunk by the British navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and died in poverty.
"At the battle of Yorktown, the British General Cornwallis had taken over Thomas Nelson's home for his headquarters. Nelson quietly ordered General George Washington to open fire on the Nelson home. The home was destroyed and Nelson died bankrupt. John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she lay dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and mill were destroyed. For over a year, he lived in forests and caves, returning home only to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later, he died of exhaustion."
This willingness to sacrifice for the sake of freedom would become a hallmark of the American people throughout our history. While the sacrifices were real and great, those who pay such costs often don't look upon them as being sacrifices in the same way we observers of those sacrifices do. Famous Scottish missionary and explorer to Africa, Dr. David Livingstone, had a different take on this spirit of sacrifice, seeing it instead as one of service ...
"People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply acknowledging a great debt we owe to our God, which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny? It is emphatically no sacrifice. Rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, danger, foregoing the common conveniences of this life --- these may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waiver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing compared with the glory which shall later be revealed in and through us. I never made a sacrifice. Of this we ought not to talk, when we remember the great sacrifice which He made who left His Father's throne on high to give Himself for us."
But times have changed. We're a long way from the fiery debates that raged in Philadelphia's Independence Hall in 1776, when 56 men risked their "lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor" for a great vision of a free people. We are now free, and a great people, because the vision of our founding father's has, through great sacrifice and service, come to pass. We remember and celebrate that today.
But let's not leave such great passion in the past, let's keep it alive today!
How is the spirit of sacrifice and service demonstrated by our founding father's part of your life and your contribution to our nation and this world? What do you stand for? Even more, what are you sacrificing for today? What great vision are you willing to risk your life, your fortune, and your "sacred honor" for?
Have a fun and safe Independence Day. May God bless you, and may God bless America!