Tuesday, July 04, 2006

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY

By W:. Patrick Bellotti

Independence Day! When you hear those words you may get little or no significance to their meaning. Most Americans think of today as merely an opportunity to use the charcoal and cookout or to watch some firework display in your local community. Nothing more - nothing less. Many might say that it is a sad thing. The taking for granted of cherised freedoms. I propose that is a good thing because "independence" is so ingrained and so woven to our fabric of daily living that is a trait that will always be with the American people. Our founding fathers have insured it's place in this great country and made us a model for people all over the world. Nations all over aspire to copy our ability to be free.

Today our independence seems to always be under the microscope of life. Everyone has a "better way". I doubt it. Our independence let's us say things that would be a death sentence in other places in the world and lets our citizenry behave in any manner they wish, no matter how distasteful it sometimes appears. In an independent and free society you get the good as well as the bad. But in the 230 years since the Declaration was written the good has far outweighed the bad and I am confident it will continue to do so.

The writers of the Declaration of Independence created a document that will endure not only the test of time but the test of man. Masonry also had a presence at the creation and adoption of the Declaration as of the 56 signers who put their lives and reputation at stake by signing this piece of history, 9 of the signers were verified Masons. It is said that even more were possible Masons but cannot be verified.

So enjoy today and give pause and thought as to what we have and what is good about this country. Appreciate and observe all the little things that never get said on a news broadcast. Look at our flag and reflect how many of our relatives, friends and strangers gave their lives to insure you have security and safety in your daily lives and most of all - HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!

I also want to add this story that always makes the rounds on the internet this time of year. I cannot verify it's authenticity but it still is in keeping with todays theme.

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. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: "For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books never told you a lot of what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn't just fight the British. We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government! Some of us take these liberties so much for granted...We shouldn't.

LONG ISLAND MASONS

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