JULY 4, 1946
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—On our last Fourth of July we were rejoicing over the end of the war in Europe and we knew that with the concentration of power in the Pacific, there would come before very long, an end of the war with Japan. Now we have had nearly a year to face the problems of peace. Many people told us beforehand that these problems would be difficult problems, but we knew, everyone of us, that nothing mattered as much to us as the end of the war in which our men were being killed. Once the war was over, they might still be away from us for a time, but their chances of return would be far greater. Their dangers would be no more than the dangers we all face in living at all times.
Now that peace is here we find that it is not enough to be grateful that our greatest fear is removed. We actually have to exert ourselves to meet the problems that confront our country in peace in the year 1946.
When the Declaration of Independence was written, the men who wrote it must have wondered how their great experiment would be accepted throughout the world, whether they would be laughed at or looked upon with suspicion, and above everything else, whether they would be left alone to try to work out the dreams which they had for mankind. They were dreams and visions then. They have grown now partly into reality. This has been for many people a free land and a land of great opportunity. The opportunity is still great, but the justice which our forefathers promised is still not complete for every citizen and there is still work for us to do to bring to full fruition the dreams of the men who wrote the Declaration of Independence.
It is safe I think, to say that they did not know completely what their dreams would lead to, and many did not actually know what the dream was, for dreams take shape as they are worked out, and if we could bring some of the men back who signed the Declaration of Independence, they would probably say that we had created a strange world, but that in some way we had not wholly carried out some of the basic things they had in mind, so that is our "unfinished business."
Today our Declaration of Independence has become a document read and studied by the whole world and it is not too much to say that it is the gospel of hope for people throughout the world. Since that is so, we are the people on whom the responsibility falls to help the rest of the world to realize their hopes. Our forefathers who wrote that Declaration pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor, not just to winning the war for independence, but to carrying on the plans which they were making for greater happiness of mankind here in the United States of America.
On this Fourth of July I hope that we will try to regain some of their sacrificial devotion, but include the world as a whole in our interest. Democracy will mean little to people of the world unless those who believe in it, work for it with unselfish and sacrificial spirit. We will have to pledge in this generation as much as the signers of the Declaration pledged way back in the year 1776.
(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1946, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC.; REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR PART PROHIBITED.)