What happened to the 56 men who signed the
Declaration of Independence?
Five signers were captured by
the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve
had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons
serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons
captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or
hardships of the Revolutionary War. They signed and they pledged
their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
What kind of men were they?
Twenty-four were lawyers and
jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large
plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed
the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the
penalty would be death if they were captured.
- Carter Braxton of Virginia,
a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the
seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to
pay his debts, and died in rags.
- Thomas McKean was so hounded
by the British that he was forced to move his family almost
constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his
family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from
him, and poverty was his reward.
- Vandals or soldiers looted
the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett,
Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
- At the battle of Yorktown,
Thomas Nelson Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis
had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He
quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The
home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
- Francis Lewis had his home
and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she
died within a few months.
- John Hart was driven from
his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled
for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to
waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves,
returning home to find his wife dead and his children
vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a
- Norris and Livingston
suffered similar fates.
Such were the stories and
sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed,
rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and
They had security, but they
valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering,
they pledged: "For the support of this declaration, with
firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we
mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our
They gave you and me a free and
independent America. The history books never told you a lot
about what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn't fight
just the British. We were British subjects at that time and we
fought our own government!
Some of us take these liberties
so much for granted, but we shouldn't. So, take a few minutes
this year while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently
thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they
Remember: freedom is never
free, and the Fourth of July has more to it than parades, beer,
picnics, and baseball games.
meaning of the symbols on the Dollar Bill
Take out a one dollar bill and look at it. The one dollar bill
you're looking at first came off the presses in 1957 in its
present design. This so-called paper money is in fact a cotton
and linen blend, with red and blue minute silk fibers running
through it. It's not paper money at all...its fabric money.
We've all washed it without it falling apart. A special blend of
ink is used, the contents we will never know. It is overprinted
with symbols and then it is starched to make it water resistant
and pressed to give it that nice crisp look.
If you look on the front of the bill, you will see the United
States Treasury Seal. On the top you will see the scales for the
balance-a balanced budget. In the center you have a carpenter's
T-square, a tool used for an even cut. Underneath is the Key to
the United States Treasury.
That's all pretty easy to figure out, but what is on the back
of that dollar bill is something we should all know. If you turn
the bill over, you will see two circles. Both circles, together,
comprise the Great Seal of the United States. The First
Continental Congress requested that Benjamin Franklin and a
group of men come up with a Seal. It took them four years to
accomplish this task and another two years to get it approved.
If you look at the left hand circle, you will see a Pyramid.
Notice the face is lighted and the western side is dark. This
country was just beginning. We had not begun to explore the West
or decided what we could do for Western Civilization. The
Pyramid is uncapped, again signifying that we were not even
close to being finished. Inside the capstone you have the
all-seeing eye, and ancient symbol for divinity. It was
Franklin's belief that one man couldn't do it alone, but a group
of men, with the help of God could do anything. "IN GOD WE
TRUST" is on this currency. The Latin above the pyramid,
ANNUIT COEPTIS, means "God has favored our
undertaking." The Latin below the pyramid, NOVUS ORDO
SECLORUM, means "a new order has begun." At the base
of the pyramid is the Roman Numeral for 1776.
If you look at the right-hand circle, and check it carefully,
you will learn that it is on every National Cemetery in the
United States. It is also on the Parade of Flags Walkway at the
Bushnell, Florida National Cemetery and is the centerpiece of
most hero's monuments. Slightly modified, it is the seal of the
President of the United States and it is always visible whenever
he speaks, yet no one knows what the symbols mean.
The Bald Eagle was selected as a symbol for victory for two
reasons first, he is not afraid of a storm; he is strong and he
is smart enough to soar above it. Secondly, he wears no material
crown. We had just broken from the King of England. Also, notice
the shield is unsupported. This country can now stand on its
own. At the top of that shield you have a white bar signifying
congress, a unifying factor. We were coming together as one
In the Eagle's beak you will read, "E PLURIBUS UNUM",
meaning "one nation from many people." Above the Eagle
you have thirteen stars representing the thirteen original
colonies, and any clouds of misunderstanding rolling away.
Again, we were coming together as one. Notice what the Eagle
holds in his talons. He holds an olive branch and arrows. This
country wants peace, but we will never be afraid to fight to
preserve peace. The Eagle always wants to face the olive branch,
but in time of war, his gaze turns toward the arrows.
They say that the number 13 is an unlucky number. This is almost
a worldwide belief. You will usually never see a room numbered
13, or any hotels or motels with a 13th floor. But think about
this: 13 original colonies, 13 signers of the Declaration of
Independence, 13 stripes on our flag, 13 steps on the Pyramid,
13 letters in the Latin above, 13 letters in "E Pluribus
Unum", 13 stars above the Eagle, 13 plumes of feathers on
each span of the Eagle's wing, 13 bars on that shield, 13 leaves
on the olive branch, 13 fruits, and if you look closely, 13
arrows. And for minorities: the 13th Amendment.
Why didn't we know this? You probably don't know it and your
children don't know it because no one ever felt it important
enough to tell us about it. Too many veterans have given up too
much to ever let that meaning fade. Many veterans remember
coming home to an America that doesn't care. Too many veterans
never came home at all.
Tell your kids and grandkids what a dollar bill really stands
for. Because if you don't, nobody else will.
Why the American Flag
Is Folded 12 Times
- The first fold of our flag is
a symbol of life.
- The second fold is a symbol of
our belief in eternal life.
- The third fold is made in
honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who
gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country
to attain peace throughout the world.
- The fourth fold represents our
weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is
to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for
His divine guidance.
- The fifth fold is a tribute to
our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our
Country, in dealing with other countries may she always be
right; but it is still our country, right or wrong."
- The sixth fold is for where
our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance
to the flag of the United States of America, and to the
Republic for which it stands one Nation under God,
indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
- The seventh fold is a tribute
to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that
we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies,
whether they are found within or without the boundaries of our
- The eighth fold is a tribute
to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death,
that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for
whom it flies on Mother's Day.
- The ninth fold is a tribute to
womanhood; for it has been through their faith, their love,
loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women
who have made this country great has been molded.
- The tenth fold is a tribute to
the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for
the defense of our country since they were first born.
- The eleventh fold, in the eyes
of a Hebrew citizen represents the lower portion of the seal
of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies in their eyes,
the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
- The twelfth fold, in the eyes
of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and
glorifies in their eyes, God the Father, God the Son, and God
the Holy Spirit.
- When the flag is completely
folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our nation's
motto, "In God We Trust."
After the flag is completely
folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat,
ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George
Washington, and the sailors and marines who served under Captain
John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates
in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the
rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.
origin of "taps"
We have all heard the haunting melody of "Taps." It's
the song that gives us that lump in our throats and usually
tears in our eyes. But do you know the story behind the song?
If not, I think you will be pleased to find out about its humble
Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the Civil War, when
Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near
Harrison's Landing, Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the
other side of the narrow strip of land.
During the night, Captain Ellisombe heard the moans of a soldier
who was severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a
Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his
life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention.
Crawling on his stomach through
the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began
pulling him toward the encampment. When the Captain finally
reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a
Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead. The Captain lit a
lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock.
In the dim light he saw the face of the soldier.
It was his own son!
The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke
out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the
The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission
to give his son a full military burial despite his enemy status.
His request was only partially granted. The Captain had asked if
he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge
for his son at the funeral. The request was denied since the
soldier was a Confederate. But, out of respect for the father,
they did say they could give him one musician.
The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series
of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket
of the dead youth's uniform. This wish was granted.
The haunting melody, which we now know as "Taps" used
at military funerals, was born.
- By Dr. Isaac Asimov
Near the end of his life the great science fiction author Isaac Asimov
wrote a short story about the four stanzas of our national anthem.
However brief, this well-circulated piece is an eye opener from the
dearly departed doctor...
I have a weakness -- I am crazy.
Absolutely nuts, about our national anthem. The words are difficult and
the tune is almost impossible, but frequently when I'm taking a shower I
sing it with as much power and emotion as I can. It shakes me up every
I was once asked to speak at a
luncheon. Taking my life in my hands, I announced I was going to sing
our national anthem -- all four stanzas. This was greeted with loud
groans. One man closed the door to the kitchen, where the noise of
dishes and cutlery was loud and distracting. "Thanks, Herb," I said.
"That's all right," he said. "It was at
the request of the kitchen staff."
I explained the background of the
anthem and then sang all four stanzas. Let me tell you, those people had
never heard it before -- or had never really listened. I got a standing
ovation. But it was not me; it was the anthem.
More recently, while conducting a
seminar, I told my students the story of the anthem and sang all four
stanzas. Again there was a wild ovation and prolonged applause. And
again, it was the anthem and not me.
So now let me tell you how it came to
In 1812, the United States went to war
with Great Britain, primarily over freedom of the seas. We were in the
right. For two years, we held off the British, even though we were still
a rather weak country. Great Britain was in a life and death struggle
with Napoleon. In fact, just as the United States declared war, Napoleon
marched off to invade Russia. If he won, as everyone expected, he would
control Europe, and Great Britain would be isolated. It was no time for
her to be involved in an American war.
At first, our seamen proved better than
the British. After we won a battle on Lake Erie in 1813, the American
commander, Oliver Hazard Perry, sent the message, "We have met the enemy
and they are ours." However, the weight of the British navy beat down
our ships eventually. New England, hard-hit by a tightening blockade,
Meanwhile, Napoleon was beaten in
Russia and in 1814 was forced to abdicate. Great Britain now turned its
attention to the United State s, launching a three-pronged attack.
The northern prong was to come down
Lake Champlain toward New York and seize parts of New England.
The southern prong was to go up the
Mississippi, take New Orleans and paralyze the west.
The central prong was to head for the
Mid-Atlantic States and then attack Baltimore, the greatest port south
of New York. If Baltimore was taken, the nation, which still hugged the
Atlantic coast, could be split in two. The fate of the United State s,
then, rested to a large extent on the success or failure of the central
The British reached the American coast,
and on August 24, 1814, took Washington, D.C. Then they moved up the
Chesapeake Bay toward Baltimore. On September 12, they arrived and found
1,000 men in Fort McHenry, whose guns controlled the harbor. If the
British wished to take Baltimore, they would have to take the fort.
On one of the British ships was an aged
physician, William Beanes, who had been arrested in Maryland and brought
along as a prisoner. Francis Scott Key, a lawyer and friend of the
physician, had come to the ship to negotiate his release.
The British captain was willing, but
the two Americans would have to wait. It was now the night of September
13, and the bombardment of Fort McHenry was about to start.
As twilight deepened, Key and Beanes
saw the America n flag flying over Fort McHenry. Through the night, they
heard bombs bursting and saw the red glare of rockets. They knew the
fort was resisting and the American flag was still flying. But toward
morning the bombardment ceased, and a dread silence fell. Either Fort
McHenry had surrendered and the British flag flew above it, or the
bombardment had failed and the American flag still flew.
As dawn began to brighten the eastern
sky, Key and Beanes stared out at the fort, trying to see which flag
flew over it. He and the physician must have asked each other over and
over, "Can you see the flag?"
After it was all finished, Key wrote a
four-stanza poem telling the events of the night. Called "The Defense of
Fort McHenry," it was published in newspapers and swept the nation.
Someone noted that the words fit an old English tune called, "To
Anacreon in Heaven" -- a difficult melody with an uncomfortably large
vocal range. For obvious reasons, Key's work became known as "The Star
Spangled Banner," and in 1931 Congress declared it the official anthem
of the United State s.
Now that you know the story, here are
the words. Presumably, the old doctor is speaking. This is what he asks
Oh! say, can you see, by the dawn's
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
Oh! say, does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
"Ramparts," in case you don't know, are
the protective walls or other elevations that surround a fort. The first
stanza asks a question. The second gives an answer:
On the shore, dimly seen thro' the mist
of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep.
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream
'Tis the Star-Spangled Banner. Oh! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
"The towering steep" is again, the
ramparts. The bombardment has failed, and the British can do nothing
more but sail away, their mission a failure. In the third stanza, I feel
Key allows himself to gloat over the American triumph. In the aftermath
of the bombardment, Key probably was in no mood to act otherwise.
During World War II, when the British
were our staunchest allies, this third stanza was not sung. However, I
know it, so here it is:
And where is that band who so
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footstep's pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave,
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
The fourth stanza, a pious hope for the
future, should be sung more slowly than the other three and with even
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation,
Blest with victory and peace, may the Heaven - rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause is just,
And this be our motto --"In God is our trust."
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I hope you will look at the national
anthem with new eyes. Listen to it, the next time you have a chance,
with new ears. And don't let them ever take it away.
Submitted by Dick, Williamsport, Md.
July 2nd Humor Page