By Sydney Alix (19)
The 4th of July, or Independence Day, is a day of celebration for Americans all across our nation, filled with parades, barbecues, family gatherings, and fireworks. But what is Independence Day really all about? Is it just other one of those holidays that give us an excuse to barbecue and party, or is it a day that is meant to be more meaningful, and sacred?
On July 4th, 1776, the founding fathers of our great nation approved the Declaration of Independence, which officially declared America’s independence from Great Britain. It was truly a defining moment in our nation’s history; 13 colonies made up of hardworking, freedom-loving individuals from all walks of life (farmers, businessmen, lawyers, merchants, blacksmiths, etc.) that were willing to take a stand against the most powerful nation and military in the world at the time. What made them choose to take such a drastic step?
Many Americans today are familiar with the phrase, “No taxation without representation.” In fact, we are often told that this was the main reason that the American colonies chose to separate from Great Britain. In actuality, it was only one of 27 grievances (number 17 to be exact) listed in the Declaration of Independence that were made against them by King George III. Each of the grievances detail how the individual liberties of the colonists were violated and trampled upon. From the disruption and dismantling of lawful local colonial government, to cutting off the colonies from trade, conscripting the colonists into military service and forcing them to fight against their own countrymen, and the devastation of the lives of the colonists through violence, plunder, and destruction. The colonists repeatedly petitioned Great Britain to right the wrongs committed against them, but they were only answered by still more tyranny and injustice.
At last, the American colonists were forced into making a stand for their freedom. The Declaration of Independence was drafted, deliberated upon, ratified and signed by 56 representatives from the 13 colonies, the signers fully realizing that even merely signing the Declaration of Independence could cost them their lives. All of them were willing to pledge their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” to the cause of freedom, and were willing to put everything they had on the line—even their lives—so that others (their fellow colonists, families, friends, children, and the generations to come) could have a chance to live in a free country. Thousands of men, old and young, went on to give their lives during the American Revolution, which lasted over 8 years. Of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, 17 lost their fortunes, 12 had their homes utterly destroyed, 9 died in battle, 5 were put under arrest as traitors, and 2 had sons that were killed in the war .
Our forefathers were willing to risk everything to give us the blessed nation and freedoms that we have today. If it were not for their sacrifice, there would be no United States of America, no Declaration of Independence…no 4th of July. On this Independence Day, I would encourage everyone who reads this to take the time to read the Declaration of Independence, which birthed our nation, and take some time to reflect on the great sacrifice that was paid for your freedom. Most importantly, may each one of us do all within our power to ensure that this priceless gift that has been entrusted to us is passed down to the generations to come.
“Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it .”
~ John Adams
 Federer, William. (2004.) American Minute. AmeriSearch, Inc.
 National Archives. (n.d.) John Adams to Abigail Adams, 26 April, 1777. Retrieved on June 27, 2023, from: https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/04-02-02-0169