Erna Harring


19 August 2023 

Last month America celebrated Independence Day also known as Fourth of July. It was birthday number 247.  On that day in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted unanimously by the  Second Continental Congress.  The document announced the colonies’ separation from Great Britain. In years to follow, the day was chosen to  mark historic events such as the ground breaking for the Erie Canal and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. 

The 56 men who signed the paper put themselves in a very perilous situation. By adopting this Declaration, the signers committed treason, they started a war with a country more powerful than the thirteen colonies, and from that created the great nation of which we are citizens today.   

I quote from the Scheels’ ad in the Gazette this past Independence Day. “ Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war.  Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment.  Several lost wives, sons, or entire families.  One lost his 13 children.  Two wives were brutally treated.  All were at one time or another the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes.   Twelve signers had their homes completely burned.  

Seventeen lost everything they owned.  Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word.” Unquote 

As one of the writers of the Declaration, Benjamin Franklin said, “ We can all hang together or we can hang separately.” This meant that if they didn’t stick together and work towards a common goal, they would fail individually.  To continue with the Scheels’ ad:  The 56 signers of [the] Declaration of Independence proved by their every deed that they made no idle boast when they composed the most magnificent curtain line in history. “  The ad concluded with the well-known quote:  “And for the support of this Declaration, with firm reliance on protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortune, and our sacred honor. ‘ Unquote. 

Now we celebrate Independence Day with parades, picnics, and fireworks.  John Adams wrote in one of his letters to his wife , Abigail, that Commemoration of America’s independence “ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews(shows), Games, Sports ,Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” 

A side note:  America’s second president ,John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, who was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, both died on the 50th anniversary of the document’s formal adoption on 4 July 1826.  

Let us never let the founding of this great country, and the sacrifice of these 56 men be forgotten or besmirched. God bless America.