The Liberty Bell
Catherine Watson, Star Tribune
Editorial: In celebration of a national purpose
- July 3, 2012 - 6:44 PM
From the July 4, 1922, edition of the Minneapolis Morning Tribune:
One hundred and forty-six years ago today American Independence was proclaimed. The old Liberty Bell heralded the dawn of a new day. The anniversary of that event from year to year has primacy in the whole list of American holidays.
We celebrate today, and it is good that we do so, but in our jubilations the look should be more ahead than back, more to the present than to the yesterdays, however glorious they may have been. We derive inspirations from those who gave to us the great thing we have -- political independence and freedom to work out our own national destinies -- but inspirations are futile if we have not also our militant aspirations based on them.
In our hands is the greatest and best political trust of all. There is an ark of the covenant for us to watch over and cherish -- not for our own weal alone, but for the good of mankind. It would be a sorry day for the world if it ever were to lose the boon of the American example of human freedom, the genius of our institutions; the compelling virtue of our national ideals as transmitted to us by the forefathers.
We are a polyglot people, a nation of many bloods. All the virtues and all the lusts of the ages mingle here, and there are ideals that jangle in discord. A nation with less cohesive force than ours would have broken in pieces long ago. We err grievously, however, if we think these binding ties cannot be wrenched asunder simply because they never have been.
Cohesion will not take care of itself. Its strength must be renewed as the years go on. Upon whom rests primarily the task and the duty of keeping it virile and adequate? Upon those who are truly Americans in birth, in tradition, in education, in political faith and in inherited purpose.
A real danger faces this nation. It fairly shouts at us from Russia and from other lands where a false light is beaconing to peoples groping in the dark and wondering which is the way out. It is here at home in our midst -- this menace.
Those who cannot see it are blind. Those who will not see it are tempting fate, risking their heritage, showing ingratitude to the fathers of the republic. The vision of 146 years ago is blurring. It can be relimned and clarified only by those of us who were born with the faith and purpose that were resonant in the tones of the old Liberty Bell.
Using words from the Sunday sermon of Dr. Marion D. Shutter, pastor of the Church of the Redeemer, on "The Americanization of America," "everything depends upon what those may do who still believe in our government and its principles. Upon them depends the America of 50 years from this Fourth of July.
They must get back their representative government, and this can only be done by working and voting. There is still enough virtue left to save free institutions, but it must get a backbone into it. We must ourselves respect the Constitution and laws. The problem of Americanization is best put the way of solution by the American who is himself Americanized."
It will be the best and timeliest observance of Independence Day if, by what is said and done by native Americans today and tomorrow and after, the fiber of our national purpose is reknit to its original strength. It is theirs to shield the ark and to make the future worthy of the noble past that is commemorated.
© 2013 Star Tribune