Independence Day a reminder of cost, importance of freedom

Last week, we celebrated the Fourth of July, Independence Day, the birthday of the United States of America. The Declaration of Independence was signed on that day 236 years ago.

Many of us have taken this great holiday for granted. We all must remember the great sacrifices that our Founding Fathers, including women and children, made so that we today can have the freedom that we enjoy.

The signers of the Declaration of Independence, many of whom were quite wealthy, were willing to sacrifice everything for freedom. How in the world could a bunch of untrained farmers defeat the world’s most powerful army, the British?

One of my favorite paintings is the one portraying Gen. George Washington kneeling in prayer in front of his gray gelding in the snow at Valley Forge.

Thousands of young volunteers died that cold winter, but somehow, the Continental Army, under the leadership of Washington, rebounded and defeated Britain’s King George and the greatest country that has ever existed was born. It simply could not have happened without the providential intervention of God.

On July 4, there were parades all over the country, and we raised our flag in salute to the independence of the greatest and freest country that has ever been, a democratic republic, the United States of America.

Freedom came to us through great sacrifice. It was not free, and neither is the maintenance of that freedom. Are we willing to demand that this country remain “for the people and by the people” and make the effort to see that it happens?

I grew up on the La Plata River south of Hesperus on the Colorado-New Mexico line.

My family didn’t have a lot of money, and on the Fourth of July, we were usually trying to get our hay harvested before the monsoon rains. We didn’t have the time or money to go to one of the celebrations in the area, but after dark, it was our family tradition to have a wiener roast and my mother would read the Declaration of Independence.

I am so glad she did that because that helped a young family realize what the Fourth of July really means.

The education of our children about our country is sorely missed at home as well as in our schools. I am resolved to continue our family tradition of reading the Declaration of Independence today, when sons and daughters-in-law and grandchildren get together. How about you?

We cannot afford to let this great country slip away. We must sacrifice today to save our freedoms for tomorrow.

This country is great because of tough and independent individuals and families that demanded self-responsibility.

May freedom always be our cry!

J. Paul Brown represents House District 59 in Colorado’s General Assembly. The district encompasses San Juan, Archuleta and La Plata counties and parts of Montezuma County. Contact Brown by phone at (303) 866-2914 or by email at jpaul.brown.house@state.co.us.