Once a year, on July 4th, Americans come together to celebrate the freedoms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, freedoms enumerated in the Declaration of Independence. When our forefathers took quill in hand and inked those words on what would become one of the most sacred of all our historic documents, little did they know that while they were creating a nation that put freedom above all else, their own lives would never be the same.

Representative Gary L. Cross

As they established the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for subsequent generations, they were willing to sacrifice those very same rights for themselves. They gave us a nation that believes its people will do the right thing, a nation in which the government is for the people and by the people, and a nation in which an individuals freedom is sacred above all else.
So this year, as America once again celebrates its independence, it’s only appropriate that we take a look at what our forefathers gave up for our future freedom.

The 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence were not wild rebels or anarchists out to overthrow a government. They were simple men of means and education. They had security in life with money and property, but they wanted liberty and freedom more than anything.

Standing proud and with determination they pledged their devotion: “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.”

For their devotion to freedom most of these men sacrificed everything including their lives, families, and wealth. The British captured and charged some with treason, others fought and died during the Revolutionary War, and many saw their homes and livelihood taken from them and destroyed.

It was because these men stood brave that we enjoy the freedom we have today. Their vision for the future of this great land far outweighed their present.

They gave us a free and independent America. While the history books do not always tell us what happened to them during the Revolutionary War, we know they suffered for our future. Some of us take these liberties for granted, but we as Americans should never forget why we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and how these rights were won.

In 1776, the Declaration of Independence was nothing more than a hand-scrawled piece of parchment, but the words these men placed on that document proved to be mightier than the greatest army. The fact that these men believed in those words and were willing to fight and die for their substance helped build a nation unlike any other in the history of mankind.

The fourth of July is just one day a year when we as a nation can stop and reflect on the free and independent life we all have. And while often we may take these freedoms for granted, we must take it upon ourselves to honor those who, in many cases, sacrificed all their earthly possessions, their honor, and their lives so that we might enjoy the freedoms of the greatest nation on earth.

I do appreciate your input on matters of importance to you, your family, and community. If, at any time, you have questions, concerns or ideas to improve our state government and the quality of life for Missouri citizens, please feel free to contact me at 573-751-1459 or e-mail me at gary.cross@house.mo.gov. Thank you for taking an active role by voicing your opinions on our state and national government issues.