Column: Bowen weighs in on freedom and democracy

Today, my column is not about politics or political parties - today I wanted to have a brief conversation about the world in which we live.

On Wednesday, Sept. 17, our nation will celebrate one of the world's most important and most significant achievements. On that date in 1787, 39 men signed a document that forever changed the world in which we live. These men signed the Constitution of the United States of America. This document created a world in which freedom is the ultimate and achievable desire of every man.

Fifty-five men gathered in a Philadelphia meeting hall and created a system of government for a new nation. For the first time, the world saw the creation of a government that existed to empower people instead of aristocracy and royalty. These men met to heal a war-torn nation, to heal the deep scars from a bloody, eight-year war for independence. These men had fought for freedom, and now they met to create a system of government inspired by the freedom for which they had fought so hard.

Just 11 years before ratifying the Constitution, many of the same men met in the same place to sign the Declaration of Independence. The 56 signers of Declaration of Independence pledged their life, fortune and honor to a cause greater than themselves. They understood the value of the virtue freedom and were willing to give the greatest of sacrifices to the greatest of causes. These men took a stand for freedom and didn't want their sacrifice to fade in our minds.

This week, as we stand in the shadow of the anniversary of one of humanity's greatest achievements, I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on the great sacrifice of those who have given us our freedom.

Of those 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, 14 died without ever seeing the freedom for which they so boldly fought. Nine of the 14 were captured by the British and tortured until their death. Two men's sons died during the war and two other men had their sons captured by the British. Eight of the men fled their homes, their homes were looted and burned and they lost everything. One signer sold all of his possessions to help finance the war and died in rags. Another saw his wife captured and killed by the enemy. Three men were driven to live in hiding and never again saw their families - they died of exhaustion after the war. They all sacrificed. Some gave the greatest sacrifice. The dedication and commitment of these men allow us to live in freedom today.

Over the past 233 years, 40 million brave men and women have served the cause of freedom around the world. More than 2 million have given greatest sacrifice to protect our freedom. Today, the greatest export of our nation is not our technology, factories or automobiles - it is our ideas about freedom. From the 1700s to today, freedom is still only as strong as those who are willing to fight for it. I thank those fighters for preserving my right to pen these words. This week, I want to honor the sacrifice of all veterans. I want to thank our brave men and women for their continuing dedication to furthering the cause of freedom around the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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