On this Fourth of July, I am reminded of the uncommon courage and vision exhibited by our American ancestors so many years ago.

In 1609, a colony at Jamestown Virginia was established, followed by the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620. By God’s grace, those two colonies survived, and the earliest beginnings of a new nation were underway.

By the early 1770s, a century and a half later, our thirteen colonies were in place with over 2 million inhabitants — all subjects of the British Crown. As such, they were required to obey all laws passed by Parliament, while at the same time having no representation in that governing body.

Tensions mounted in those years as more taxes and other burdensome measures were levied against the colonists. Confrontations ensued, which ultimately led to the battles at Lexington and Concord in April of 1775 — thus beginning a revolution that would change the course of history.

As our war with the Crown deepened, delegates attending the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia chose to make their intention of separation clear to their British rulers.

Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston were appointed to draft a declaration of independence from England. The landmark document, penned mostly by Thomas Jefferson, was signed July 4, 1776.

The delegates pledged their, “lives, fortunes and sacred honor,” as each signed the document. As beneficiaries of their courageous act, we rejoice in the blessings of liberty begun so many years ago — and held so dearly today.

Happy birthday to Rosie Stevenson, Karen Atkinson and Jimmy Cummings, all from Sherman; David Lee Frier of Howe; and Georgia Roberson of Savoy.

Happy anniversary to Gordon and Darlene Duke of Sherman, 45 years; and Penny and Mel Carruth of Denison, 33 years.