Today is Independence Day in the U.S.A. I live in Independence, Missouri and have been thinking about independence a lot lately. So it seemed fitting to talk about our independence.
Independence Day in America for many people has been reduced to picnics, fireworks, family time, and a day off from work. They don’t get what it really stands for because the advertisers don’t want them to think about it.
What it really stands for is courage to do what is right, even at personal risk. What it stands for is a little over two hundred and fifty years ago, people got fed up.
The British government handed down laws and made demands on the colonists with no input from the people subject to those laws and demands. The Colonists objected to this because it was something that was not allowed to happen by English constitutional law. They questioned why they were subject to British law when it came to taxes, but they were not allowed to elect representatives in accordance with that law.
This became such a concern that they appealed to the king directly, but King George III and his advisers didn’t see things the way the Colonists did. They kept imposing rules and taxes on the people of the colonies without allowing them to speak against them.
This is what lead to the Declaration of Independence, but that wasn’t the end of things. The men who founded our new country didn’t just run around saying, “We’re independent.” They risked everything to make it a reality.
Benjamin Franklin said, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall hang separately.”
A Department of the Interior document sums it up.
“In suggesting that hanging might be the fate of those who signed the Declaration, Franklin was choosing an easier end than the one traditionally meted out in England to traitors. Traitors were subject to the ferocious and gruesome punishment of being hanged, drawn, and quartered, reflecting the ancient judgment that a single death was an inadequate response to the crime of plotting the king’s death or seeking to overturn the established order.”
The victim would spend weeks or months knowing their fate. Then they would be dragged out of their prison cell and paraded through a crowd of onlookers to the location of their impending torture and death.
They would be hung, not the way we see in movies where the floor drops out to break their neck. No, these men would be pulled up until they were no longer touching the ground so the spinal cord would stay in tact. The pain that person would suffer being would be incredible and that doesn’t even take into account the asphyxiation.
Those sentenced to this kind of death wouldn’t be allowed to die that way though. To be hung in this instance, a person was hung by the neck until near death.
Next, the victim would be cut down, tied down, and have his genitalia removed and his abdominal cavity cut open so his internal organs would spill out. All this would happen while he was still alive and likely begging for mercy if he had the strength.
At this point the victim would then be hacked into five pieces likely with an ax, many times while still hanging on to the last shreds of life, though blessedly not for long. The pieces would be distributed and displayed so that anyone else with the intention of committing treason would think twice.
If you were faced with this kind of punishment, would you commit the crime?
This is what our founding fathers were facing if they lost the Revolutionary War, and yet they did it anyway. They didn’t pussy foot around it either. They put their names on a document for everyone to see and sent a copy to England. I’m sure their fear was palatable and the paper stained with sweat when they did it.
Why? Because they had conviction. They believed so totally in the cause, that they were willing to risk this horrible punishment. They did it to better the world for others, for you, at great personal risk to themselves.
So as you celebrate this Independence Day, remember these men and the thousands of others that stood up to give you the right to badmouth the country and the leaders of the country you live in. Remember what your freedom cost in blood, pain, and sorrow.
Remember that the fireworks represent the “bombs bursting in air.” Those bombs intended to eliminate the people who fought for your freedoms.
Make this a day of celebration, but also make it one of remembrance and appreciation. Remember the brave men who stood up for what they knew was right and made your life better because of it.
Do you live up to their legacy? Do you stand up for what is right or do you let your fear control you?