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Op-Ed: Reflecting on Independence Day

The following op-ed is written by State Sen. John Schickel (R-Union).

When someone says to me, have a safe Fourth of July holiday, I know they mean well, but I cannot help but think that the Fourth of July was about risk, not safety, for our Founding Fathers. We forget the tremendous risk the signers of the Declaration of Independence took for freedom. The British captured five of the founders who signed it.  They were tortured before they died. The homes of twelve others were destroyed and burned down. Some lost children in the war to both death and capture. The death of nine of the fifty-six founders was the result of battle, some succumbing to wounds. The Founding Fathers consisted of jurists and lawyers (25), farmers (9), and merchants (11). They were brilliant men who had means of influence. They could have lived a life of ease and comfort but chose to risk it all for the cause of freedom. That’s why I, as your state senator, am so vigilant in protecting our liberty and individual rights.

Since the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, the Fourth of July has been observed as a day for Americans to stand in unity and recognition of our nation's founding. On this day—245 years ago as of this Independence holiday—exemplary visionaries dared to create a unique form of government. Our Founding Fathers established what President Ronald Reagan described as "the shining city on a hill" because, despite the imperfections of man that exist in our history, America became a beacon of hope for the world. Since the nation's inception, America has stood steadfast in pursuit of the ideals of liberty and justice for all.

Our celebrations this year will feel especially important after the unprecedented last year and a half. We should dedicate time to reflect on our country's past and take pride in its enduring principles. The Fourth of July marks the first time that all men were declared equal. Despite race or nationality, religion, or political affiliation, we are all born with God-given rights. The Declaration of Independence is still known as one of the most inspiring documents ever written. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Beginning as America's foundation for freedom, these powerful words are the blueprint of the United States of America.

Our nation—and our state—was founded on a simple principle: Freedom and Liberty. This is the cause our forefathers lived and died for.

In the wake of COVID-19 and all its challenges, I believe this Fourth of July will be most extraordinary. Perhaps more than any other time in our lives, we appreciate the liberties and opportunities America provides. I hope that together, we will continue to strive for unity and peace for our country and our people. We are a nation that celebrates our differences; we do not persecute them because we are one nation and one people under God. Unitedly, let us continue to make our Founding Fathers’ declaration many years ago a reality today.

In my hometown of Union, Kentucky, we celebrated the Fourth of July early this past Friday with a huge celebration of food, fireworks, and fellowship. It was sure great to get out and see everyone, shake hands, and even hug after a difficult winter.

I wish you and your family a liberty and freedom-filled Independence Day. God bless America.