Editorial: What is it worth to keep America's freedoms? (7-4-41)

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (July 4, 1941)


In thousands of communities across the United States people will be gathering today to celebrate our greatest national holiday. On this day, 165 years ago, the Declaration of Independence was adopted, and the revolution which had begun a year before took on a new character – no longer a struggle for American rights as colonists but a war for independence.

That day in 1776 did not win American freedom, but it gave expression to the purpose for which Americans were thereafter to fight, often close to defeat but never yielding, until the surrender of Cornwallis in 1781. The Declaration would have been no more than implemented by the courage and determination of the American people.

Today, in peaceful communities, we are celebrating the statement of doctrines of equality, of freedom, and of inalienable rights. Across the world, dictators are seeking by fire and sword and terror to destroy those principles and replace them with a doctrine of mastery for some and slavery for others. As in 1776, our beliefs and convictions mean nothing unless we are ready to defend them with courage, determination and willingness to sacrifice.

This anniversary should be devoted to a revival of the spirit of 1776, too often forgotten in the long years of peace. The freedoms of America did not come about by accident. They were established by men willing to fight for them, and women prepared to make any sacrifice to win and keep them for their children. They can be defended only by the same kind of heroism, self-sacrifice and overwhelming belief that the hope of mankind lies in government of, by and for the people.

As Americans celebrate today, motoring overlong reaches of highways, picnicking in some friendly grove, foregathering with their families, sitting in their homes, and always speaking together with the lack of restraint or of fear born of long custom, they might ask themselves: What is it worth, to keep all this? And the answer must come, unanimously: Everything we have or ever hope to have, so that these things may be preserved.

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