This is Cindy Adams' July 4th column. Republished with respect, but not permission.
June 28, 2006 -- I'M thinking July 4. I'm thinking 1776. I'm thinking patriotism. I'm thinking when all Americans were united in loving and supporting their country.
WWII. 1942. A True Story magazine article headed "Movie Stars Honor and Serve Our Country." It featured Pvt. Mickey Rooney, who took basic at Fort Riley, Kan., and was in the European theater of operations. Besides latrine and KP duties like everyone else, he did jokes for the guys like, "You know what a troop train is? A bunch of compartments separated by crap games."
It had photos of Lt. Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Cmdr. Wallace Beery and Robert Montgomery, who was our embassy's naval attaché in London. It featured a layout on Oscar winner Jimmy Stewart, who had joined up. There was Lt. Tyrone Power, Lauren Bacall's future husband Humphrey Bogart in the Navy, and Sgt. Glenn Ford, always to be remembered playing opposite Rita Hayworth in "Gilda." Plus one actor nobody will forget - Capt. Ronald Reagan. And "Gone With the Wind" 's Clark Gable, a captain. And big star Barbara Stanwyck, who was married to big star Robert Taylor, whose role then was lieutenant. If you don't remember him, you may remember his Mandeville Canyon 112-acre ranch complete with in-house casino, which is now owned by entrepreneur Ken Roberts and is where Hillary-for-senator's first fund-raiser was held.
That particular issue listed five reasons to buy "War Bonds": 1) World's safest place for your savings. 2) Written promise the U.S.A. will repay every penny. 3) 2.9 percent interest. 4) Cash back in 60 days if you need the money. 5) Can't go down in value.
One feature, "The Spirit of '76 in '42," read in part: "July Fourth, 1776 was the day on which the Declaration of Independence was signed. This supremely confident and challenging statement of the promise of American life - a promise, which has now become the hope of the world - was made amidst the dismal failure of Revolutionary armies."
The booklet "Historic New York" records some of these failures: In 1776 Nathan Hale, a 21-year-old Yale grad from Connecticut, led a battalion that joined George Washington against the massive British forces out to seize N.Y.C. When Washington retreated to northern Manhattan, this lone volunteer to spy behind British lines left Harlem Heights for his secret mission. Caught carrying sketches of British military positions and his Yale diploma, Nathan Hale was hanged after his famous last words: "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."
A plaque at 66th and Third marks the probable site of Hale's execution. A plaque in the shadow of 44th and Vanderbilt's Yale Club honors Nathan Hale. His statue stands at the Broadway and Murray streets' entrance to City Hall.
Enter Battle of Saratoga hero Benedict Arnold. Bitter at not being promoted, Arnold chose betrayal. In patriot Benjamin Franklin's evacuated home in occupied Philadelphia lived British Adjutant General John André, 30. Arnold arranged to turn over West Point's fort in return for a generalship in the British army. Andre was captured in Tarrytown and hanged in Tappan, maybe a tollbooth away from our now Tappan Zee Bridge.
When Americans declared independence in 1776, the enemy sent 500 ships carrying 30,000 troops to secure N.Y.C. Until D-Day, 1944, the largest naval attack in history. Washington and his overmatched army escaped New York to avoid capture. Thousands of New York rebels died. Thousands more on British prisons ships anchored in the Hudson.
In New York, the heart of our nation's Revolution, stands Fraunces Tavern, 54 Pearl St. It is where George Washington thanked his generals after the British surrender.
The Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 patriots. Merchants, farmers, lawyers, physicians, 10 were pastors' sons. Roger Sherman of Connecticut was a shoemaker's apprentice. Another, George Taylor, sailed to the New World as a bond servant. Benjamin Franklin, the eldest, was 70. South Carolina's Edward Rutledge, the youngest, 26. Virginia's Thomas Jefferson, 33. President of the First Continental Congress John Hancock of Massachusetts, 39. And it was deputy Patrick Henry, in the town of Richmond, on March 23 who said: "Give me liberty or give me death."
If caught, death was the penalty for their treason. The Plymouth Rock Foundation's "They Signed for Us" reminds us they risked their lives to sign for us. They were plundered, brutalized, destroyed, bankrupted, imprisoned, shot and hunted like animals so that today's citizens could trample our flag and set fire to it.
It must never be - no matter what our individual beliefs - that the spirit of the United States of America, the best country in this whole world, can ever be gone.
Have a safe Fourth of July. My big mouth and I return on July 5