JULY 4, 1947
HYDE PARK, Thursday—I am very happy to see that in celebrating the Fourth of July, we are increasingly trying to make it a day of patriotic observance but without quite so much noise and danger to the young! I am sure that there is less excitement about a "safe and sane" Fourth but perhaps more real thought is given to the reasons which lead us to celebrate this Day.
The Declaration of Independence was a very great document. The men who wrote it, nearly all of them fairly young men, were of extraordinary calibre. There were very few of us in those days in the United States and we were a weak country compared to the great nations overseas. The tables are reversed today, we are the strong people and the nations overseas look to us for help. Just because we are strong, we are going through difficult times.
It is almost impossible for a nation that has as many potentialities as we have not to be selfish. When we realize that most of the men who left our shores to fight in far distant places, have returned with a greater perception and appreciation of their native land, we know that we will have to be careful or we will be arrogant as well as selfish. As a matter of fact, on the Fourth of July, we have much cause for humility. The war has been over for two years but we have not yet achieved a peaceful world, much less a world that we can honestly believe is beginning to go forward under its own power.
In spite of all we have, we are afraid, much more afraid than our ancestors who wrote the Declaration of Independence. They had the courage to take in people from all parts of the old world and they felt sure that they could weld them into one nation. We are fearful about taking in a paltry 400,000 for fear that they will upset our economy or be a bad influence in our body politic.
The General Federation of Women's Clubs, at their annual meeting in New York City voted down the resolution to support the Stratton Bill. There could be only two reasons: one—that they thought the people who might come here would be undesirable; two—that they might upset our economy by adding to the labor supply when some people fear unemployment is drawing near. It did not seem to occur to anyone that this gesture to the suffering people of the world called for a little courage, some ingenuity and planning but that the difficulties involved would certainly not have daunted those among our ancestors who signed the Declaration of Independence.
I wish that on this Fourth of July we would rededicate ourselves to the great truths expressed in this Declaration and realize again that it is through the sharing of our great opportunities with the other people of the world that we have come to be a great nation.