4th of July milestone years
We turned 150 years old on June 25, and to commemorate this milestone, we have featured on this page some of the editorials of the past that reflect the reality of the times.
In 1969, on our 100th birthday, in the midst of great unrest and turmoil in the nation, The Vindicator published the following editorial on July 4. It is noteworthy that 17 days later, the nation experienced unmatched exhilaration with the moon landing. Cmdr. Neil Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface, and thus we defeated our Cold War enemy, the Soviet Union, in the Great Space Race.
The second editorial was published July 4, 1944, in the midst of another historic event in the nation’s history, World War II.
July 4, 1969
The Declaration of Independence, a historic compendium of early American philosophy, proclaimed that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
In a period of unrest, stirred by unhappiness in events both at home and abroad, it is recalled that these grand principles for living were not inspired by American rebels, certainly the advocates of rebellion as exemplified today by those who demand all the rights and privileges of an independent nation without contributing to the principles as proclaimed by the Declaration or assuming any of the responsibilities which form the basis for the support of those principles.
The nation’s founding fathers had their own original concepts of fundamental philosophy for the citizens of a young country and time has proven their vision true. They put those principles into practice by way of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, which undeniably were solid in substance yet flexible enough to accommodate the changes which the Declaration’s authors knew would inevitably develop.
It is hardly necessary to say that the high ideals envisioned by those early Americans have been imperfectly fulfilled. The problems that have developed since the 1770s have been tremendous and difficult to handle. Certainly the framers of the Declaration must have forecast periods of turbulence and, presumably, secretly held the hope that succeeding generations of Americans would seek out, and strive to live by, the principles propounded in the Declaration and the Bill of Rights.
What happened in Philadelphia193 years ago was indeed something immensely worthwhile in human history. Have we lived up to its promise?
July 4, 1944
It used to be that we thought of freedom as something that had been won for us, once and for all, by the early colonists and the men of Washington and Lincoln’s time. The great watchwords of American history – “So they committed themselves to the will of God,” “Give me liberty or give me death,” “I regret I have but one life to lose for my country,” the shot fired by the “embattled farmers” that “was heard round the world” – these and other that are part of everyone’s mental equipment are beautiful and noble sentiments that we learned in early childhood and never forgot. But no one ever dreamed that the times that gave them birth would ever return, or that out generation would come upon days when we would be repealing, as if they were written for us, the bitter words:
“He is trampling out the vintage where
the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightening
of his terrible swift sword.”
Today, the truth of these lines comes home to us. Our people are again face to face with an evil that would kill or enslave them. Our young men are fighting and dying upon battlefields that ring the globe. Our dead are holding bivouac upon not one but upon many a Dark and Bloody Ground. We know now what fighting and dying mean. The reality of war is coming home to everyone as the mail or the telegraph brings word of someone near and dear who has been killed or injured or is missing in action.
In years gone by the Fourth of July was only a holiday, a day of picnics and fun, to enjoy because our country once had heroes to win and preserve for us the good things of life. Now we find that the Fourth had meaning we had not understood before. The heroic days have returned, Humanity again is hanging breathless on what we do. Our hopes, our tears, our prayers are all with our men struggling and sweating and suffering at the front. They have written new names in our history – Bataan and Tarawa and Saipan, Guadalcanal and Midway and Coral Sea, Tunis and Anzio and Cherbourg, and more are to come.