The year was 1770. The location was the colonies of the British empire in North America. As the circumstances with the British occupation of the colonies began to deteriorate, more and more people stepped forward to show their dissent. Initially, there was some naiveté about the consequences that might result. But slowly, it began to dawn on everyone – as the violence escalated – that to be on the side of freedom was to risk the charge of treason and death by hanging. There were so many justifiable reasons to back down: rampant small pox, starvation, a poorly equipped militia, and a fractured group of representatives from the thirteen colonies who initially couldn’t seem to agree on anything. Looking back at history and the context in which crucial decisions were decided and executed can help us realize the real, gut-wrenching sacrifices made for our freedom – sacrifices that have been repeated throughout our history.
As a leadership development firm, we find it incredible the tremendous effort it took for the representatives of the Continental Congress to reach agreement on anything. Each man was adamant about representing the needs of his particular colony: what was important to Massachusetts was of no relevance to those from Virginia or Delaware. However, as they continued to work together, recognizing each other’s strengths, understanding that the good of the whole was so often much more important than the good of a part or piece, and believing in a common goal, the self-interests began to disappear and a unified vision was formed. Most importantly, they didn’t give up on each other; they persevered with determination for our freedom. Sometimes, we want results quickly and we need to be reminded that important things take time.
Today we celebrate the 236th birthday of the United States of America and the ratification of the declaration for our independence. Today, let’s be thankful not only for the soldiers who have fought to keep freedom a vibrant cornerstone of American ideals, but also for the genius, innovation, guts and fortitude of our exceptional leaders throughout our history who chose to do what was right, even though it was hard. Leaders who sometimes stood absolutely alone in the firm belief that the principle they stood for was right.
In the midst of BBQs, family, and fireworks today, we encourage you to take a moment to thank those leaders who throughout history have risked so much for us, who have led America through some of its darkest days, who have stood against tyranny and injustice, claiming freedom and liberty as inalienable rights for us all.