JULY 4, 1960
HYDE PARK—The calendar is kind to us this year and the 4th of July falls on Monday. This should give a really long weekend to many hard-working people and should mean that those who dash to the beaches and expose themselves to too much sun will have time not only to suffer from their burns but to get a little enjoyment out of the beach or the mountains or wherever they go after the burn turns to tan!
I came back from the country on last Sunday night, and I suppose because it was such a beautiful day the amount of traffic on parkways and thruways was so great that the drive which usually takes two hours and a quarter took four hours. Our progress was so slow we watched our own thermometer creep up and along the road cars were stalled, evidently having heated up because of the slowness of the movement of traffic. I hope very much that this holiday weekend will not be spoiled for a great many people by the difficulty of their return trip.
Is there any way that the train services could put on more trains and tempt people to use them at the times when large numbers of people are moving in and out of the city? Perhaps better attention to food service and more frequent trains at these crowded times might make less congestion on the highways and might also reduce the number of accidents which seem to occur over every holiday.
I am much relieved these days that our young people do not have the temptation to dabble with firecrackers and fireworks on July 4th as we used to do. But I do think there ought to be some kind of substitute which marks this day as the day on which the family gets together to remember the duties encumbent on an American citizen.
Most of us can either watch or join a parade in our local village or town and we can decorate the soldiers' graves, but that does not seem to me to be just what ought to come out of a 4th of July celebration.
Somehow our young people should realize that we are celebrating the service to their country of people in the past. They lived in a very different world, so today it requires a very different type of service but the same qualities of character and mind.
It is well, I think, to read our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution and our Bill of Rights. Actually, these documents are far shorter than the average platform of either one of our political parties and yet they have guided us in our political life throughout the years. They are good models to keep in our minds and to have our young people discuss, and then apply to the problems that we are facing today.
This is a difficult time in which many of the problems are similar to the problems of the past, and yet we have to find different solutions. The study of the past may help, but we need completely fresh thinking and the realization that our ancestors did completely fresh thinking in their day.
So, this is not a departure from tradition. It is simply the use of our imaginative powers to meet today's problems with the same courage and character with which our ancestors met their problems many years ago.