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Remember the bravery of our Founding Fathers 243 years ago

More than 200 years ago, the Continental Congress, a governing body composed of men representing each of the 13 American colonies, met in Philadelphia, Pa., at what is now called Independence Hall and ratified the Declaration of Independence.

Thursday, we celebrate the 243rd anniversary of the event that declared the colonies’ independence from England and King George III with barbecues, parades and special events. But what is lost in all the activity is the importance of what those men did July 4, 1776.

That declaration did more than announced the colonies were free of the mother country. It assured independence.

Declaring independence allowed the colonies to form alliances with Britain’s rivals, resulting in an alliance with France, which provided arms, its navy and troops to the colonies’ cause. It was that help from the French that contributed to the defeat of British Gen. Charles Cornwallis at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781.

We need to remember that those men who met in Philadelphia took a big chance ratifying, signing and then publishing the Declaration of Independence across a country that was under British rule.

Displaying the Declaration publicly could have meant arrest for sedition. The French might then have decided to sit out the revolution and not provided the assistance that helped us win our freedom.

It is customary during holidays like the Fourth to honor the men and women who have fought to keep the freedoms we have, and it’s good that we remember those who made the sacrifice to travel to a foreign land to fight tyranny and oppression when it threatened us and the world.

But as we go about our activities Thursday, let’s remember those individuals we learned about in our elementary and high school history classes. 

This year, let’s not forget those men who met in Philadelphia 243 years ago and took a major risk to tell Great Britain, “We’re tired of being under your thumb; we’re going on our own.”