As always, freedom comes with a very high price

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 4, 2005

I got a letter the other day criticizing me for praising President Bush for trying to spread Democracy around the world. Why, the writer asked, are we spreading democracy around the world when we haven't yet got it right here?

That's a load of garbage. We have it right. Sure, we keep tweaking it to make it better, but this constitutional republic we have works. If it didn't we wouldn't be here enjoying the blessings of freedom won for us more than 225 years ago by our courageous founding fathers, many of whom paid a terrible price for their crusade for independence and political liberty.

Someday, the people in Iraq will look back on those they will remember as their founding fathers, and all their ancestors who braved death to cast their first ever votes in a free election in 2005, and recall the price they paid.

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The men and women who faced death by running in that election were fully aware that they were putting their lives on the line, and in the weeks and months to come, many of them will be murdered by the thugs who make up the insurgency.

These Iraqi patriots, much like our own colonial forebears, knew what they faced but they did not let it deter them from going forward in their campaign for freedom and democracy. They know it's going to be hard, and they know some of them are going to die. But they also know that someone will pick up the flag and carry it forward.

We will share those memories, for we know how high the price of liberty can be . We know it from the history of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence.

These were the men who proclaimed "…we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." Some of them lost their lives and their fortunes; none lost their sacred honor.

Much has been written about what they endured, and much of it is inaccurate. The most reliable history I've seen came from the Heritage Foundation. Here's what historian Dr. Matthew Spalding wrote on the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence:

"Five of the signers were captured by the British during the war. Captains Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, and Arthur Middleton (South Carolina) were all captured at the Battle of Charleston in 1780; Colonel George Walton was wounded and captured at the Battle of Savannah. Richard Stockton of New Jersey never recovered from his incarceration at the hands of British Loyalists and died in 1781.

"Colonel Thomas McKean of Delaware wrote John Adams that he was 'hunted like a fox by the enemy–compelled to remove my family five times in a few months, and at last fixed them in a little log house on the banks of the Susquehanna . . . and they were soon obliged to move again on account of the incursions of the Indians.'

"Abraham Clark of New Jersey had two of his sons captured by the British during the war. The son of John Witherspoon, a major in the New Jersey Brigade, was killed at the Battle of Germantown.

"Eleven signers had their homes and property destroyed. Francis Lewis’s New York home was destroyed and his wife was taken prisoner. John Hart’s farm and mills were destroyed when the British invaded New Jersey and he died while fleeing capture. Carter Braxton and Thomas Nelson (both of Virginia) lent large sums of their personal fortunes to support the war effort, but were never repaid."

When the people of a future Iraq look back I hope they will know what price their founders paid, unlike today's American students who are being kept ignorant of their own glorious history.

Mike Reagan, the eldest son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is heard on more than 200 talk radio stations nationally. Comments can be sent to