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.
Remember: freedom is never free! It is bought and paid for dearly for the friends and family members of those that make the greatest sacrifices to make this country what it is.
I quickly before I wrap up want to share a personal story.
When I was working before I became ill, I was working at a restaurant. One of the young dishwashers had just signed up to join the military- the branch, I forget. While I was visiting the bar to help the bartender, there were several people that sat nearby. The young man came out to ask me something, and one of the regulars at the bar asked him how he was doing. He went on to tell them of his enrollment and explained his goals. There was a another man sitting there at the bar, which interrupted, and asked him why he would basically ruin his life by doing so. The young man’s remarks were something I think I’ll never forget. He looked that man in his face and simply said, “I joined the military for people exactly like you, the people that sit by and take that our freedom for granted. I joined so I can make a difference in not only the people that support me, but also those that don’t. It’s people like you that still need to be able to sit around and grip about all the wrong in this country, while people like me, make it a place that is safe for your family and friends. So you can carrying on with your life, going to work, making money, and enjoying the things in life that bring you pleasure and peace.”
I was absolutely astonished at the comments. A young man, just graduated from high school, that had so much wisdom and kindness to do what he thought was right.
May we all carry on this Labor Day with the pride and thankfulness that it deserved by men and women all of the nation that make a difference in our life’s, even if it’s indirectly effecting us all.