On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence to proclaim to the world this nation would be an independent sovereign country. Fifty-six men signed the document to show the world that they stood by independence. They were farmers, lawyers, businessmen, and up until that point they had been British citizens. But, they were more. They were husbands, friends, brothers, sons, grandsons, and grandfathers. They were in the simplest of form people, but they were people who believed there could be something better. They believed there could be a great nation. They believed there could be a nation where people were free to worship as they wish, work as they wish, and govern themselves as they wish. They believed there could be a nation where everyone signed on to the Declaration of Independence.
The signers had no way of knowing how America would turn out. They viewed the country as thirteen small colonies. They viewed the nation not as the military and economic power that it would become, but instead as struggling small nation facing the greatest military power known to their world. They knew that there would be advancements, they knew there would be growth, and they knew there was a vast frontier waiting to be tamed in the future. By signing the Declaration of Independence, each man put his name on a potential death warrant so that a future could be bought. Had the country failed, not only would we still be under British rule today, but those men would have been hung, shot, or otherwise imprisoned and killed. Treason was the word they would have used, and with it the sentence of death would have been imposed.
Since that time back in 1776, men and women have stepped up to the call of the Declaration of Independence. They have stepped up and died on the beaches, they have died in open fields, they have died at sea, they have died in foreign lands, they have died here at home all in the call of maintaining that little piece of paper called the Declaration of Independence. But more than that they have stepped up in all walks of life. They have stepped up as Presidents, Congressmen, state representatives, children working to bring aluminum to war efforts, doctors working to help find cures, and construction workers working to build the country.
Every man, woman, and child who calls himself an American and steps up to help build this nation has in effect signed that Declaration of Independence. The signers’ list is longer than any fifty-six men today. It includes the Sam Waltons of the country, the Fords of the country, the Reagan’s of the country. The list includes artist, workers, physicians, builders, explorers, grandparents, parents, and so many more. Any American who has set out to make a better and brighter day for one American or for many Americans has in theory sat down at that table back in 1776 and signed their names to the list.
Today, however, there is a growing list of people who will not sign their names to the Declaration of Independence. They will instead decide to waste the gift. Instead of taking the gift and signing on, they will decide it is easier to sit back and watch Television, play on the Internet, or play video games as America marches on. These people have always been around, but now they seem to be growing in numbers. The independent spirit seems to be dying for a dependent spirit, and the number of those signing the Declaration of Independence today is dwindling. But the good news is it does not have to be this way! There is still time.
Don’t waste the gift of the Declaration of Independence. Instead get up and make a difference for your country today. There is so much you can do. You can sign on and be the builder of a new business, a new building, a new street, a new home, and a new park. You can go to trade school and become a mechanic, an electrician, a plumber, a truck driver, a train engineer, a pilot, and more. You can go to college and become a teacher, a physician, a nurse, an engineer, and a business leader. You could start a new business, no matter how small, or build on another business. You could join the armed forces and serve in the ultimate position as a signer of the Declaration.
Today, as you eat the burgers and hot dogs and as you watch the fireworks this evening, ask yourself, “Am I a signer of the Declaration of Independence? Have I really signed on or am I wasting that gift?” If the answer is that you are not a signer and that you are wasting the gift, then take today to change that. Just as fifty-six men did in 1776, take a moment to set out on a path that is different, dangerous, and at the same time wonderful. Don’t sit by and waste the gift, become part of the gift. Declare your independence again and by this time next year you and your nation will be a little better and freedom will mean a little more when you watch those fireworks.