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July 4th: A Brief History Lesson, Reminder

by Bill Stephens, Metro News Photographer | 4 July 2018 | 6:30 p.m. CT | Evening Edition

CHICAGO, IL - Today is a celebration, a birthday; 242 years ago our founding fathers declared our independence from England and HRH King George III. They, the 56 signers, decided they had enough of George III and his tyrannical rule.

Signing that document essentially put a target on the backs of the signers and their families. It placed their homes, businesses, lives and any wealth they had in jeopardy. Some of them did pay the ultimate price; others lost family members and property; it was much like our present day service members who essentially write a blank check to our country while fighting for our freedom and our way of life.

While years of violence preceded the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolutionary War actually began in April of 1775 and lasted a total of eight years ending in 1783 when the British finally surrendered.

Within those eight years of bloody fighting and during the second continental congress, The Flag Resolution of 1777 was passed adopting our first flag, a symbol of our new country. A flag with 13 stripes of alternating red and white and a blue field in the upper left corner with 13 stars in a circle symbolizing the 13 original American colonies.

A following Congress proposed the Bill Of Rights to accompany the constitution forming a Constitutional Republic. It appeased concerns of voting members to make sure the states had the ability to govern within themselves.

In a Constitutional Republic, a constitution or charter of rights protects certain inalienable rights that cannot be taken away by the government even if it has been elected by a majority of voters.

By May of 1790, the blueprint that would make up our country was ratified and adopted. As a side note, only six signers of the Declaration of Independence signed the U.S. Constitution as the other 50 declaration signers were not available or were lost in the war.

These documents and their meaning have held value all these 242 years. While there have been attacks on our Constitution and Bill of Rights, our founding fathers plan has stood the test of time and has protected us from outside forces.

So as we spend our 4th of July cooking out, traveling, frolicking at the beach or enjoying festivals and watching fireworks displays. Do not forget how and why we celebrate this day.

Remember those that gave all for the freedom we have. Remember those that continue to serve while we take time for our jobs and regular lives to celebrate this birthday. Remember those that have served and paid the ultimate price. We owe them all!

If you would like a refresher course on the Declaration of Independence while being entertained, rent or buy the movie “1776”. I recommend the restored director's cut. This movie covers the major points of that historical time period with humor and music.