Americans began celebrating July 4th as an official national holiday only after Franklin Delano Roosevelt made it so in 1941.
In his radio address to the nation on July 4 of that year, FDR acknowledged a worldwide threat to civilization and to democracy, the American democracy included. His remarks were clearly meant to prepare Americans for entry into WWII, an idea that was not popular at that time. FDR stood on American principles and not on political convenience.
Here are some excerpts from the radio address:
“In 1776, on the Fourth day of July, the representatives of the several States in Congress assembled, declaring our independence, asserted that a decent respect for the opinion of mankind required that they should declare the reasons for their action. In this new crisis, we have a like duty.
“In 1776 we waged war in behalf of the great principle that government should derive its just powers from the consent of the governed. In other words, representation chosen in free election. In the century and a half that followed, this cause of human freedom swept across the world.
“But now, in our generation in the past few years a new resistance, in the form of several new practices of tyranny, has been making such headway that the fundamentals of 1776 are being struck down abroad and definitely, they are threatened here.
“It is, indeed, a fallacy, based on no logic at all, for any American to suggest that the rule of force can defeat human freedom in all the other parts of the world and permit it to survive in the United States alone. But it has been that childlike fantasy itself, that misdirected faith which has led nation after nation to go about their peaceful tasks, relying on the thought, and even the promise, that they and their lives and their government would be allowed to live when the juggernaut of force came their way.”….
“Yet, all of us who lie awake at night all of us who study and study again know full well that in these days we cannot save freedom with pitchforks and muskets alone after a dictator combination has gained control of the rest of the world.”
“We know that we cannot save freedom in our own midst, in our own land, if all around us our neighbor nations have lost their freedom.”…..
“I tell the American people solemnly that the United States will never survive as a happy and fertile oasis of liberty surrounded by a cruel desert of dictatorship.
“And so it is that when we repeat the great pledge to our country and to our flag, it must be our deep conviction that we pledge as well our work, our will and, if it be necessary, our very lives.”
Today, as in 1941, human freedom and democracy are under growing threats. Now from tyrannical Islamist regimes and jihadi terrorist groups. Unlike FDR, who cherished America’s past and achievements, our president keeps apologizing for America’s past actions. Barack Hussein Obama is willing to accommodate and accept hostile ideologies, governments and groups on “mutual interests” and “mutual respect” to create “a common humanity.” FDR first defeated America’s enemies and only then worked with them to strengthen human freedom and democracy.
Today, as we celebrate the anniversary of America’s independence for an astonishing 239th time, we should recall the ideological basis for U.S. involvement in WWII, which FDR framed in terms of individual rights and liberties, and the form of government that are the hallmark of American democracy.
FDR’s famous Fourth Freedom, “Freedom from Fear,” not only spoke to the need to meet external physical threats but also the need to meet threats to the moral and political values of American democracy. Our success then allows us to celebrate today.
Happy Independence Day!!