JULY 4, 1944
HYDE PARK, Monday—This column will come out on the Fourth of July. That day was devoted to the setting off of firecrackers in my childhood. We started by putting the biggest bunch we were allowed to have under a tin can, lighting the fuse, and waiting with baited breath until the big noise would shatter the peace of the summer morning and awaken my grandmother. We saved our pocket money for weeks beforehand, and begged all we could from our elders, but at best our firecrackers never lasted beyond breakfast time.
The day was a joy to us and a discomfort to our elders, but it was the dogs who suffered most. They crawled under the beds and sofas and stayed there until our supply of firecrackers was exhausted. When evening came our elders set off some firecrackers for us, and we were allowed to hold the Roman candles, which we did with considerable trepidation. That was the climax of a perfect day.
In those days I am afraid I thought very little about why we celebrated this day, but today when firecrackers are out of the question, children and their elders are much more apt to think of the real things which make July 4 an important date to all of us.
The fathers of our country were young men when they wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence—it was a young man's document and it expressed the faith and hope and ideals of youth. Ex-President Hoover, in his speech the other night, said that the Republican Party recognized that this was a time when youth would take over. Comparatively few states have made it really easy to be in the armed services, still assurance was given to both the men and the women in the services that they would be consulted and have a voice in our policies for the future. This is in line with our tradition—good, sound, old American doctrine.
People in the older nations of Europe must have laughed at the young upstarts who thought they could put into words anything which would so inspire a people that a new country would be founded and shape its policies in accord with their declaration. The amusement did them no harm, and neither will it hurt the young people of today if they speak out their convictions and write from their hearts.
Many of the things which were said in the original declaration I think the youth of today will reaffirm. It would be hard to improve on: "We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." These are brave words, and the men who wrote them meant them, for they ended thus; "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." That is what the youth of today is carrying out. God grant their elders help them.