Independence Day


Nancy Bryans, Writer, Teen Scene Editor, Production Assistant

Independence Day – July 4th 

As we celebrate our nation’s Independence Day, it is an opportune time to reflect upon the reasons our forefathers sought their freedom from Great Britain and to review the responsibilities associated with our inherited liberty. The American Revolutionary War was fought between April 19, 1775, and September 3, 1783, with the Declaration of Independence, ratified on July 4, 1776.

Financial costs of fighting the French and Indian War between 1756 and 1763 necessitated replenishing Great Britain’s coffers. American colonists, annoyed by taxes imposed on them without their representation in Parliament, demanded the same rights as other British subjects. Objections to continuous British taxes levied on colonists without their representation—the 1765 Stamp Act and the 1767 Townshend Acts—triggered increased resistance, then violence in 1770 when British soldiers fired upon Boston protestors. The Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773, led to armed conflict, beginning with the Battles of Lexington and Concord in April of 1775.

Looking backward, those taxes do not seem excessively burdensome since we pay all sorts of taxes in modern-day America; however, there was something else motivating our colonial forefathers. They sought independence not merely from an oppressive British monarchy, but freedom itself. As stated in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,–”

Framers of the Declaration recognized the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” were three natural rights given to human beings that no authority could deny, but each contained a caveat. Life meant the right of each citizen to be safe in a community, with the duty to preserve that life, thereby preserving mankind. Liberty meant freedom for all citizens but entailed responsible use of freedom under the rule of law without usurping others’ freedom. Pursuit of Happiness—taken from a quote of 17th-century English philosopher, John Locke, who identified natural rights as “life, liberty, and estate” (property)—meant the fundamental right to freely pursue the joys of life, without infringing on others’ rights or committing illegal acts. 

When our founders penned their names on the Declaration of Independence, their desire was to create a country of independent states with representative governments whose citizens could enjoy the natural rights of humankind free of monarchial tyranny. Each signer knew independence, if it were to be obtained, would enact a burdensome price, yet each signer agreed to gamble the cost of liberty would be worth the effort to attain it. Some colonists paid the ultimate price to ensure that citizens of the United States of America would have civil and political liberty, with representation in their legislative branches of government. I would wager that not one person who fought during the war or who aided in achieving American independence ever took freedom for granted.

This July 4th, as we fly our flags and enjoy fireworks celebrating Independence Day, let us take a few moments to honor the legacy of the signers of the Declaration who pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to achieve our independence and to honor the legacy of the brave men, women, and children who fought, sacrificed, and suffered to ensure the freedoms we inherited from their extraordinary achievement. May we, as patriotic Americans, preserve, uphold, and cherish those values expressed in the Declaration of Independence not just one day of the year, but every day.