JULY 4, 1958
HYDE PARK—I approach this Fourth of July with a sense of the enormous responsibility that the United States now carries.
Our village of Hyde Park, which has grown tremendously in population in the last years, is having a special celebration—the nonpartisan type—in which the hope is to emphasize that we in America, though we believe in the two-party system and fight hard during elections for our particular brand of politics, still have a tremendous sense of unity and responsibility towards our own people.
But I sometimes wonder whether demonstrations of this kind mean that there is any real understanding on the part of the people of the position the U.S. occupies in the world today, or whether we still believe that our own interests are the only ones we need to think about and the rest of the world can get on equally well, no matter what we do.
Actually, the state of our economy affects countries all over the world. In fact, we can stand a depression in the U.S. much better than some countries. What will happen in the Near East, for instance, is laregly dependent upon our policy and the working out of our policy with the Soviet Union.
The development of countries in many other parts of the world depends to some extent on what we do on foreign aid, for instance, and what foreign aid we decide to give—economic or military.
Our foresight, our ability to project ourselves into the future, to understand the situations of other nations, to assess them wisely and to exert the proper kind of persuasion may well mean peace or war. And peace or war means life or death to the greater part of the world's people.
On this Fourth of July, therefore, in every household throughout the nation I think there should be a little solemnity in our approach to the holiday spirit. We can be proud of our past and we can draw strength from it. We cannot forget for a minute that the problems of today are different from those of the past and that we have to find solutions to these problems. They cannot be met by our ancestors.
I wish all our children could reread the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights on this day, for among the most important things that the younger generation must do is to decide how we will live up to our Constitution.
There are constitutions of other countries that carry high-sounding phrases, and sometimes they are lived up to and sometimes they are not. But while words are important, it is deeds that matter most.
The Bill of Rights gives each citizen of our country, regardless of race, creed or color, the right to take part in his government by free access to the polls and the secret ballot. This right is circumvented by certain states and I feel that on the Fourth of July the country as a whole should dedicate itself to seeing to it that this right is, in reality, the right of every citizen.
Our citizenship and what it implies is brought home to us in one way or another by the way we spend this Fourth of July. May it bear fruit in more dedication to the principles of the Constitution and to the rights of free men.
(EDITOR: Note that this column is for release July 4. It is going to you in advance because of the holiday.—UFS.)