They were so committed to an ideal, they were willing to die to achieve it

Happy Independence Day.

If there is one thing seasoned citizens value most, it is their independence. On the other hand, if there is one thing seasoned citizens fear the most, it is losing that independence.

I think the idea of independence is hard-wired into people’s DNA. We want to be our own boss, and bristle when we are told what to do. That’s especially true of men, but women can exhibit stubborn independence as well.

Independence has been a hallmark of the American way of life for 248 years, when 56 rebels gathered at the Pennsylvania State House to mutually pledge their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to formally separate from England.

The signers paid a big price. As men wanted for treason against Britain, some signers were captured as traitors; many had their homes ransacked or burned; a few had sons killed in battle or captured by the British. Some formerly wealthy individuals died penniless.

Yet they were committed to the idea of independence. Benjamin Franklin, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, proclaimed “We gave you a republic, if you can keep it.”

I drive my youngest daughter crazy by saying every presidential election is the most important election of her lifetime. In a way it is.

America seems to be on a spiraling descent away from a republic, where people elect representatives to act on their behalf, and in a full gallop toward a “democracy” where the majority rules, often by mobs.

There is no question that life in the United States is vastly different from life when I was growing up in the 1960s. Yet, America was far from an idyllic country back then.

Real racism was prevalent. Elected leaders were sending young men against their will to wage war in jungles overseas for unknown purposes. Assassinations ended the lives of several prominent political figures. Americans lived in fear of nuclear war. Illnesses like polio and small pox were ravaging the bodies of young children. The sexual revolution hadn’t started leaving teenagers and adults in hopeless bondage to a false, temporary love.

Yet, for the most part, the scourge of divorce had not decimated families and shattered the lives of millions of children. Pornography was confined to dark, seedy places and not available in abundance at the click of a button. Women didn’t shout their abortion, nor did real men abandon their families.

In fact, a man with a high school education could find a good-paying job and support his family while mom stayed at home. Life was simpler and moved at a much slower pace before cell phones connected us to everyone around the world, while creating a chasm of distance between people next to us.

When I was growing up, Americans still shared a common worldview that recognized right from wrong, and encouraged personal responsibility as well as commitment to the common good.

All that has changed, and quickly. During my Bible study this morning, I was reading Matthew 24:12, where Jesus was talking about the end times and noted, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.”

We are there now. The anger in America is palpable everywhere I look. What was once clearly wrong is celebrated as being right. People who hold to traditional values are ostracized and mocked. The right to be left alone has been replaced by demands for conformity to ever-changing worldviews.

As we go out to celebrate Independence Day with family picnics and fireworks today, I encourage you to pause and read the Declaration of Independence. You can still find a copy at the National Archive’s website at

You might want to download and save a copy of the document before it is considered “hate speech” or “encouraging insurrection” and banned from public view.

But, there is a reason why we are celebrating this day, and it’s not for freedom to choose between burgers or brats. I encourage you to read the Declaration of Independence to remind yourself of why our founding fathers wanted independence so badly they were willing to die to achieve it.