JULY 4, 1952
HYDE PARK—Today we mark another Fourth of July and I hope throughout the country all of us will re-read the Declaration of Independence.
This document, written by our forefathers, breathes a spirit of devotion to liberty. This document was written by men who were adventurers. For a variety of reasons they had left their own countries and come to live in a new world.
Just crossing the ocean in those days was a terrifying undertaking, and one that only hardy souls would undertake. Would the small ships they traveled in survive the storm? Would the food they took last for the journey? Would disease and death visit them aboard their crowded ship? What would they find in the new world? How would they survive to the next harvest? Would the people in the new land be friends or foes?
Everything was a gamble, a gamble for very high stakes—namely, life or death.
To these men who came to this country, being revolutionists was nothing new. Since they had won in the difficult gamble of establishing themselves in this new world, it probably did not seem to them so impossible to overthrow a sovereign across the sea!
They succeeded in establishing the United States of today, and we are the inheritors not only of these first adventurers but of the many waves of immigrants who followed year after year. New people constantly left their countries for freedom's sake or feeling that here there was a livelihood to be achieved that could not be gained in the homes they were leaving behind.
We must not be allowed to forget that our forefathers had little security. Each generation took care of itself. That is probably one of the things we should always remember on the Fourth of July.
We seek to build a world in which our children may be more secure with material needs and from fears of aggression from without. But perhaps we should not want to spare our children, since it is the things that we have to struggle for that are most important to us. And each generation should have some measure of struggle.
We have acquired in this country a fair amount of physical ease over the years, but we must not let that blind us to the fact that we have a struggle still before us which is as much a spiritual as a material struggle. Our forefathers came here for freedom's sake and we must not barter away that freedom. It is as important to us today as it was to them. The right to think and express our thoughts, the right to listen to whatever we choose, the right to meet and talk with whomever we choose—these are still important to us.
It is said that the scientific mind or the creative mind in any of the arts cannot really develop unless the atmosphere in which it functions is free. That same atmosphere is necessary for the full development of any human personality. And if this country is to continue to be the kind of country envisioned by the authors of the Declaration of Independence we will have to weigh very carefully the various kinds of dangers that surround us and decide how best we can preserve our total freedom.
Having convictions and confidence in ourselves and in what we live for is the only real thing on which we can base our freedom and our security today, just as it was in 1776.