America Essay Contest: Why Did They Put Everything on the Line?

America Essay Contest: Why Did They Put Everything on the Line?
Detail, “Declaration of Independence” by John Trumbull (1819), depicting the Committee of Five—John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston. (Public domain)
Ivan Stockham

Sipping raspberry lemonade and resting peacefully in the shade on my cradling hammock, I hardly notice the evening slipping by. The quiet summer breeze is broken briefly by the buzzing of a distant aircraft. Then I reach for my glasses to read my latest text message. The little things we take for granted (like peace, safety, or mind-boggling technology) came at a cost: usually human blood, sweat, and tears.

Our Founding Fathers set up a republican government, where the people would have the power and a voice to be heard. They fostered an environment that would encourage and reward the creative energy and the imagination of the masses. A place where the human spirit and human potential could be maximized. Yes, here in America: “from sea to shining sea,” America is “a choice land above all other lands,” preserved for a wise and righteous purpose in our day and age, constituted by 56 noble men who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor by signing a document we call the Declaration of Independence.

Indeed, these men were not just casually signing a petition, but courageously signing basically their own death sentence. Many of these men were hunted down, captured, tortured, and killed, and their homes were ransacked, pillaged, and destroyed. Even their family members were in some cases incarcerated or went missing. These “signers” were often fugitives in their own newly formed country.

But why? Why did they put everything on the line? Why? One thought comes to mind, that they did each have a personal testimony that “all men were created equal” and should have the rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” In a word: FREEDOM. The freedom to boldly act for themselves, to come and go as they pleased, to earn a living, and to bear arms in defense of that fundamental idea.

A century-and-a-half earlier, a group of European Puritans sailed over the harsh Atlantic Ocean for two-and-a-half months in deplorable conditions to grasp a new shoreline. It was a fresh, untamed continent with dew still on it. A new settlement was forged. A place where they could worship the living God according to the “dictates of their own conscience.” At last, religious freedom. To practice the principles they thought to be correct, not to be harassed or persecuted by a government or a mob or ungracious neighbors.

Whether it was the courageous Pilgrims seeking solace or saintly pioneers seeking religious sanctity, we have ultimately inherited the hopes and dreams and legacies of hard-working, determined Americans: folks who risked life and limb to immigrate to and colonize the greatest place on earth. Eight generations before me, my ancestor, Tobias Hartranft, arrived in Pennsylvania in 1734. His great-great-grandson would become a general in an awful war to preserve this precious country. My father enlisted in the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict. I salute all those who defend this nation, who take up the sword so that we don’t have to perish by the sword.

Freedom is for everyone and everyone is important. May we defend this treasured soil and our supreme Constitution to the end, so that we may live our lives without fear and breathe the fresh air around us. As the sun sets on my little piece of heaven and I stroll to my home, I thank God for our Founding Fathers and my forebears, whose devotion, sacrifice, and courage made all of this possible.

Yes, I do love America. And yes, time is slipping quickly away into a brave new future for my posterity, a different kind of America. May we, united, stand strong and hold up Old Glory with pride! May the stars and stripes forever fly high. May I always relish the simple things in life and rest peacefully under the starry heavens. God bless America!

Ivan Stockham, a baker in the snack food industry for 25 years, lives outside of New Oxford, Pennsylvania, with his wife Leslie. They are proud parents of three daughters and one son.
This essay was entered in the Epoch Times “Why I Love America” contest.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Author’s Selected Articles
Related Topics