JULY 4th, 1939
WASHINGTON, Monday—This column will come out on the Fourth of July and I feel moved to write a little about some of the dangers which surround the celebration of this day.
Every year it seems to me, after the day is over, we read of some children who have met with accidents through the improper use of firecrackers and fireworks. I remember very well the joy it used to be to celebrate this particular day by making more noise than I was usually permitted to make on any other day in the year. I remember I used to try to awaken particularly early so as to break into my elder's slumber with some loud and very terrifying outburst of noise.
I always justified this by tales which had been told to me by my father of how he and his brother, Theodore Roosevelt, used to rise before dawn on the Fourth of July and terrify some of their neighbors because they set off their largest firecrackers under their bedroom windows. I lived too far away from any neighbors in my grandmother's place on the Hudson River, and, in any case, being more or less alone, I would have been too timid to arouse anyone's wrath outside of my immediate family's. They have to forgive you in the long run and every child knows that. I was carefully enough supervised, however, to escape any real accident.
Today, as a member of the older generation, it is not the noise to which I object, for I have learned to think of that as a good outlet for youthful spirits, but I wish that we could sell only such firecrackers as cannot possibly do any real harm. Where fireworks are concerned, they should be sold only to adults with restrictions as to the age when their setting off may be assisted by the younger members of the family.
Then there is another sad item that appears in the papers after almost every holiday—some one adds up the number of people killed in motor accidents, and it is always higher than on other days. This seems to me totally unnecessary and I wish that I might emphasize two rules which should be strictly enforced on any holiday, as well as every other day. Nobody should drive a car faster than the legal speed limit, especially on roads which are crowded, and they should be careful not to pass another car unless they can see for at least half a mile ahead. Passing on a hill is a good way to court disaster.
Speeding and the desire to pass other cars are, I think, two of the main reasons for motor accidents. It is not only young people who are reckless, we older people are often lured into reckless driving.
I hope this column may serve to make more people think about the safety of children in their celebrations, and the safety of both young and old while driving on the Fourth of July.