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Americans owe thanks to a few brave men

When asked about the Declaration of Independence, most of us may be able to muster up a few lines of prose, culled from the memorization required in our school years.

Perhaps we can find the first words, "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another …"

Or perhaps going a little further, can find the more popular phrases, "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."

But today, this day before our nation celebrates it’s 229th year of independence from Great Britain, we’d like to remember the last 31 words:

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

Those words truly illustrate what was at risk in making the simple, yet eloquent declaration public.

In the end, 56 brave men signed that document, though none of them actually signed it on July 4, 1776, most signing it a month later, some signing it years later.

Regardless of the exact date, with a few lines of ink, these men signed their own death warrants for what they were doing was treason. They had to either fully split from England or die trying.

Each of the signers - and the countless others who fought for independence - knew that, although the stakes were high, the potential reward was worth it.

Today, 229 years later, America still stands as one of the greatest countries in the world and one which remains focused on the individual liberties that were first put down in words by America’s founding fathers and the framers of more than two centuries of liberty.

Tomorrow as Americans celebrate the Fourth of July, our Independence Day, we should not forget the brave men who risked everything - life, fortune and honor - for their beliefs that no man was beholden to a king.