Sunday, July 7, 2019 | 2 a.m.
On July 4, 1954, my father, Las Vegas Sun Publisher Hank Greenspun, wrote a brief but very meaningful Independence Day column. In it he shared his thoughts about America’s resilience for the first 178 years of its existence and, I believe, took a glimpse into the future when that American spirit would be called upon, once again, to honor the sacrifice made by our Founding Fathers.
I am reprinting my father’s column for Las Vegas Sun readers for two reasons. The first is to show that a history replete with unsavory characters such as Joe McCarthy and Pat McCarran — and the “isms” that threaten liberty and freedom — can repeat itself today. Secondly, I want to show that the words of a man so recently returned from the combat horrors of World War ll could be so optimistic about America’s future, giving each of us reason — 65 years later — to believe the same.
I would also note that the newborn son my father wrote about has just reached the age of retirement, but that our country still has a lot of work to do.
— Brian Greenspun
The United States of America is only 178 years old today.
Although I wish it long and prosperous life, I surely thought it was more ancient. It must be older because I myself have kicked around the country longer than that, or maybe I just feel that way. And at my age to start pushing another baby carriage around is kind of stretching this daddy business to the breaking point. He’s a beautiful and sturdy looking fellow though and should be a credit to Nevada if he can keep from getting investigated — his cheeks are a bright pink, you know.
This must truly be a strong, resolute and vital country to have lasted this long despite the onslaughts of underminers like McCarthy, McCarran, Huey Long, communists, fascists, and the rest of the scurvy group whose sole motives and designs are the destruction of our constitutional liberties and freedoms. I have a hunch that the country will go on and on to ever greater glory because there is a basic quality in the American people that was best described by Abraham Lincoln when he said: “But you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”
Americans might be temporarily taken in by the bombast and rhetoric of spellbinders who have naught but their own self-interest at heart, but when reason finally breaks through the bonds of emotion and the truth becomes apparent, the people can be counted on to do the right thing.
America was founded by those fleeing intolerant conditions in foreign lands. America was settled by people who despised tyranny and religious persecution, but most important of all America was founded by people who sought truth and justice and who are seeking these precious commodities, so any demagogues or tyrants rising in our midst must be doomed to failure.
How can petty men, no matter how well their guise — whether be falsely draped in the flag or uttering superpatriotic phrases — defeat the penetrating spirit of these words inscribed on our Statue of Liberty which will ring forever through history;
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me;
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’
In the deep meaning behind these words of Emma Lazarus is reflected the spirit of the American people — the reason our country has survived these 178 perilous years and the reason why each succeeding year the phrase “Happy Fourth of July” will take on new significance.
“Happy Fourth of July and many more.”