(I took this photo in summer of 2007) The Assembly Room in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, where the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word. Their honor, and the nation they sacrificed so much to create, is still intact.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Four represented the Palmetto State.

Thomas Lynch, Jr., had his health broken from privation and exposures while serving as a company commander in the military. His doctors ordered him to seek a cure in the West Indies and on the voyage he and his young bride were drowned at sea.

Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, and Thomas Heyward, Jr., were taken by the British in the siege of Charleston. They were carried as prisoners of war to St. Augustine, Florida, where they were singled out for indignities. They were exchanged at the end of the war, the British in the meantime having completely devastated their large land holdings and estates.

While I will never sign my name to such an historic document as that, I do consider it an extreme privilege to serve the people of Richland and Lexington Counties in Columbia. Every time I walk from my office in the Blatt Building up those steps into the Chamber it hits me the huge honor and responsibility I’ve been given by the people of Irmo, Chapin, Dutch Fork, White Rock, Harbison and Columbia.

While I cast important votes, none will ever match the votes taken to declare Indpendence and the signatures written on that declaration. While I make small sacrifices, they pale in comparision to what these brave men lost. Many lost everything in service of the country.

To read more, visit “The Americans Who Risked Everything” . For additional information, click here .