Sarge's Log
Comments on Veteran's Issues and coping with PTSD

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Wednesday, July 04, 2001
Independence Day

In the United States we celebrate Independence Day by
having picnics, playing with friends, parades and
watching fireworks when night falls. We often forget
that it is much more than that. This is the day that
is thought of as the day our forefathers signed the
Declaration of Independence and made us a free people;
it actually happened over a few months, as the men
showed up to sign it, but on this day we celebrate it.
Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who
signed the Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors,
and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes
ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in
the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured.
Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or
hardships of the Revolutionary War. They signed and
they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their
sacred honor. What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were
merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation
owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed
the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that
the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and
trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the
British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay
his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he
was forced to move his family almost constantly. He
served in the Congress without pay, and his family was
kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him,
and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery,
Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge,
and Middleton.

At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted
that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the
Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged
General George Washington to open fire. The home was
destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed.
The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few
months.

John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she
was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His
fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more
than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning
home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.
A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken
heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American
Revolution. These were not wild eyed, rabble-rousing
ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and
education. They had security, but they valued liberty
more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they
pledged:

"For the support of this declaration, with firm
reliance on the protection of the divine providence,
we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our
fortunes, and our sacred honor."

They gave you and me a free and independent America,
at great cost to themselves! Some of us take these
liberties so much for granted...We shouldn't.

So, take a couple of minutes and silently thank these
patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they
paid.