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Marking Wausau's Fourth of July in the '20s, '40s and '70s

4:10 PM, Jul. 3, 2013  |  Comments
July 31, 2011 I think this was the flag near the McDonalds by the Broadway stop.
July 31, 2011 I think this was the flag near the McDonalds by the Broadway stop.
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From the newspaper's archives, here are editorials published by the Wausau Daily Record-Herald for Independence Day at three distinct times in our nation's history:

July 3, 1929: The Fourth of July

Again, tomorrow, the American people will celebrate the anniversary - this year it is the 153rd - of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration, and his associates doubtless had but slight conception of the manner in which the principles set forth in their statement would spread over the earth, inspiring men everywhere to efforts at realizing their own aspirations for liberty and self governance.

On July 4, 1776, kings were in fashion in all parts of the world. Not only did King George III reign in England, but there were kings, or emperors, or czars at the heads of every country on the globe. Few of them ruled with the aid of parliaments. Most of them were kings "by divine right" alone, according to the ancient theories of kings and princes. But when the band of American colonists cited the grievances imposed upon them by the English king and his government, and declared the American people to be free citizens of an independent nation, they set an example that other peoples were to follow in the succeeding century and a half, until Spain was driven from the western world, the czar from Russia, the kaiser from Germany, and the king from France, and those nations still retaining royal rulers so arranged their affairs that a parliament, rather than a king, governs the country. (...)

If the United States had accomplished nothing else worthwhile, the example it set by its Declaration of Independence and the seven years' fight, to ultimate success, it waged to make the Declaration a reality instead of a dream, would deserve well of all mankind through the ages to come. But it has done much else that is good. Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and their comrades of 1776 would have no reason to be ashamed of the country they founded, if they could see it today.

July 3, 1946: Safety on the roadways

We had another four-day week-end little more than a month ago. In that Memorial Day spree, traffic accidents killed 159 Americans. Other causes brought the casualty total to 287.

By Monday morning, after the Fourth of July four-day week-end, some 2,000 persons throughout the United States will have suffered injuries, some 200 will lie dead in morgues. And these will be only the traffic accident victims. Add to them the hundreds of others who inevitably will be slain or maimed in water tragedies, fireworks explosions, and household mishaps.

Three hundred celebrants died during the 1945 Independence Day observance. This year, the National Safety Council, carefully considering holiday averages and trends, plus the impetus supplied by the return of servicemen from overseas, the end of gasoline rationing, and the release of war-supressed emotions, estimates that accidents will take 500 lives.

But you can prove that terrifying prediction false. ... Resolve to take no chances on your holiday. Resolve to safeguard your own life, those of your loved ones, and those of your neighbors by driving and walking - yes, and playing - with particular care.

Resolve now to make this in every sense a Safe and Sane Fourth.

July 3, 1972: Freedom: continuing business

We tend to forget that July 4, 1776, was more than one self-contained day in history. It was the watershed from which has streamed a great, ever-broadening river of freedom into our own time.

We are wrong if we think of this date as marking the day when freedom was brought forth by decree and handed to posterity. Independence was not a completed event. It was a continuing process, an evolution, a growth.

Freedom in America is still an unfinished business.

This involves much more than the fact that in the years since Yorktown marked a successful conclusion militarily of what was proclaimed politically in Philadelphia in 1776, Americans have been called repeatedly to defend freedom anew, millions with their very lives.

War, however, is perhaps the easiest form of patriotism. In war, the enemy is obvious, and the course of duty clear. Or at least so it seemed before Vietnam became such a painful part of the American experience.

It is more difficult sometimes to recognize the enemies of freedom - not necessarily persons, but ideas, entrenched interests, prejudices hallowed by tradition.

At one time, freedom in America was for the "respectable" people, those who owned enough property to qualify for the right to vote. Throughout our history, too of ten freedom has been abridged or denied to certain classes and minority groups.

Yet eventually these groups attained full acceptance into citizenship - not by riot or revolution but by steady evolution within the framework of the Constitution.

That is the pride and the glory of the United States, that we have been able to grow in freedom toward an ever-broader freedom.

Let freedom in America never be finished business, and let America never cease working on it.

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