I got into quite a disagreement with our production manager today. It seems that many of the shop guys would prefer to take Friday, 07/06/2012 as a holiday instead of Wednesday, July 4th. The production manager agreed that our shop will be open on the 4th and they can take either day at their discretion. He thought I was being foolish, what a sad commentary on our times. In talking to Mike Sadlak, I explained the reason it upset me so and he agreed that I should create a memo to be given to each employee individually on July 4th and that he would sign it along with me. The following is the result: Because They Pledged their Lives, their Fortunes, their Sacred Honor…………. You are able to celebrate every other holiday of a national or religious nature because of the freedom with which you are privileged to live. These freedoms came to you without any effort by you; they came to you because there were 56 men of vision and resolve who “pledged their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor” that it would be so. There is one day of the 365 days of every year that, as a nation, we honor not only those men but the very freedoms we take for granted. While you may choose a long weekend over a day of national gratitude and recognition, at the very least take a few minutes during your coffee break or your cigarette break to think about the protections given to you by the document signed on July 4th, 1776, The Declaration of Independence, the subsequent amendments in the Bill of Rights, and the men and women who fought and died so that future generations could live without fear of the tyranny of their government. You can honor these freedoms best by voting in every election. What matters is that you vote more than “how” you vote Fifty-six men from each of the original 13 colonies signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Nine of the signers were immigrants, two were brothers and two were cousins. One was an orphan. The average age of a signer was 45. Benjamin Franklin was the oldest delegate at 70. The youngest was Thomas Lynch Jr. of South Carolina at 27. Eighteen of the signers were merchants or businessmen, 14 were farmers, and four were doctors. Twenty-two were lawyers - although William Hooper of North Carolina was "disbarred" when he spoke out against the king - and nine were judges. Stephen Hopkins had been governor of Rhode Island. Forty-two signers had served in their colonial legislatures. John Witherspoon of New Jersey was the only active clergyman to attend. (Indeed, he wore his pontificals to the sessions.) Almost all were Protestants. Charles Carroll of Maryland was the lone Roman Catholic. Seven of the signers were educated at Harvard, four at Yale, four at William & Mary, and three at Princeton. Witherspoon was the president of Princeton, and George Wythe was a professor at William & Mary. His students included Declaration scribe Thomas Jefferson. Seventeen signers fought in the American Revolution. Thomas Nelson was a colonel in the Second Virginia Regiment and then commanded Virginia military forces at the Battle of Yorktown. William Whipple served with the New Hampshire militia and was a commanding officer in the decisive Saratoga campaign. Oliver Wolcott led the Connecticut regiments sent for the defense of New York and commanded a brigade of militia that took part in the defeat of General Burgoyne. Caesar Rodney was a major general in the Delaware militia; John Hancock held the same rank in the Massachusetts militia. The British captured five signers during the war. Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, and Arthur Middleton were captured at the Battle of Charleston in 1780. George Walton was wounded and captured at the Battle of Savannah. Richard Stockton of New Jersey never recovered from his incarceration at the hands of British Loyalists. He died in 1781. Thomas McKean of Delaware wrote John Adams that he was "hunted like a fox by the enemy - compelled to remove my family five times in a few months." Abraham Clark of New Jersey had two of his sons captured by the British during the war. Eleven signers had their homes and property destroyed. Francis Lewis's New York home was razed and his wife taken prisoner. John Hart's farm and mills were destroyed when the British invaded New Jersey, and he died while fleeing capture. Carter Braxton and Nelson, both of Virginia, lent large sums of their personal fortunes to support the war effort but were never repaid. Fifteen of the signers participated in their states' constitutional conventions, and six - Roger Sherman, Robert Morris, Franklin, George Clymer, James Wilson, and George Reed - signed the U.S. Constitution. After the Revolution, 13 signers went on to become governors. Eighteen served in their state legislatures. Sixteen became state and federal judges. Seven became members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Six became U.S. senators. James Wilson and Samuel Chase became Supreme Court justices. Jefferson, Adams, and Elbridge Gerry each became vice president. Adams and Jefferson later became president. Five signers played major roles in the establishment of colleges and universities: Franklin and the University of Pennsylvania; Jefferson and the University of Virginia; Benjamin Rush and Dickinson College; Lewis Morris and New York University; and George Walton and the University of Georgia. Adams, Jefferson, and Carroll were the longest surviving signers. Adams and Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Carroll was the last signer to die in 1832 at the age of 95.