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But there is a reason why we celebrate on the 4th and we can’t forget that! It was the day the day the colonies declared their independence from England. Freedom was declared in some famous words of the Declaration of Independence, which starts:

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.

And it was signed first by John Hancock and then by representatives from all the states. We still honor John Hancock by saying, "Put your John Hancock on there," whenever we ask for a signature. If you want to get a blank stare, ask someone for their "Josiah Bartlett." He’s the second guy to sign, but nobody remembers him.

This was an exciting day! A day of joy and celebration. But what followed was anything but a simple joy or easy. You see, every Independence Day, my thoughts race ahead to what followed July 4th. Actually they run all the way to December of 1776. They go to this point in history because it’s here that that history shows us how brittle and fragile was the hope of independence.

George Washington was commanding an army that was disintegrating before his eyes. It looked as if all hope for victory was gone. He had made a military blunder that had lost New York to the British Army. The Congress had fled from Philadelphia because the city was seen as a lost cause. The Continental Army was low on gunpowder, guns, food, and other supplies. The civilians that had celebrated so heartily on July 4,5,6th, were now wondering if it would be wisest just to give up at this point. Most of the soldiers would finish their enlistments on December 31, and other didn’t wait that long and simply deserted. George Washington’s Army was about to be destroyed by British troops and German Mercenaries (Hessians). The future of America was hanging on by a thread.

Which makes the events of Christmas Day 1776 all the more amazing. Washington led his troops across the Deleware River against incredible odds. There was hail and sleet, and iceflows. The operation took hours longer than originally thought. Two of the generals failed to join in the fight because of the bad conditions. But Washington led his troops against all odds on a nine mile march and defeated the better trained and equipped Hessians and turned the war around. An almost impossible mission completed, and a seemingly undefeatable enemy, defeated. The future hung by a thread, but a...

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