July 4th – Celebrating America’s Fight for Independence
The 4th of July is a celebration of the birth of American independence when, on July 4, 1776, delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence.
The Declaration of Independence explained why the 13 colonies (New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia) no longer considered themselves under British rule. It listed 27 colonial grievances against King George III, and asserted various rights, including the right to revolution.
The American Revolution
American colonists first started protesting British rule with the Stamp Act Congress (“no taxation without representation”) in 1765. This event was followed by the Boston Massacre in 1770, the burning of the Gaspee in 1772 and the Boston Tea Party in 1773.
Hostilities broke out when the British tried to destroy American military supplies in 1775.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 217,000 colonists fought in the war, which ended in 1783. An estimated 4,500 colonists were wounded during the conflict, and 4,435 died in battle.
The colonies had been providing pensions for disabled soldiers and sailors for more than a century before the American Revolution, starting with Plymouth in 1636.
On August 26, 1776, a month and half after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress adopted the first pension legislation. It provided half pay for disabled military veterans who could no longer earn a living, for as long as they were disabled.
Two years later, on May 17, 1778, another resolution was passed to encourage military officers to stay until the end of the war, by providing them with half pay for 7 years once the conflict had ended. Enlisted men who stayed received an $80 stipend.
The first widow’s pension was approved by the Continental Congress on August 24, 1780. It provided half-pay to the widows and orphans of officers for 7 years according to the terms of the May 17, 1778 resolution.
More than 200 years have passed since the colonies freed themselves from British rule. Today, July 4th is celebrated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, and many other festivities. And the VA continues to provide pensions to veterans, spouses, and dependents.
If you would like to learn more about the VA’s Aid and Attendance benefit for veterans and spouses who need long-term care, call one of our Benefit Consultants today at 877-427-8065, or click here.