6:00 AM, Jul 4, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
For the last couple years, the boss has recommended a few important speeches on and about July 4 from Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Lou Gehrig. All are worth revisiting, but earning special mention this year is Gehrig's July 4 farewell speech at Yankee Stadium. On this day 75 years ago, the first basemen retired from the game he loved in front of the fans who loved him.
His amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the disease so associated with the man that it now popularly bears his name, had begun to destroy his body. But in his address, which he made in between double-header games, Gehrig humbly spoke of himself as the "luckiest man on the face of the earth."
Richard Sandomir of the New York Times reflects on the words of Gehrig's speech and how we came to remember them through Gary Cooper's honest portrayal of the Iron Horse in the 1942 film The Pride of the Yankees. Here's an excerpt:
Far from the United States, more than a year after the release of Pride, Cooper would begin to grasp the importance of the "luckiest man" speech. In October 1943, Cooper traveled to the South Pacific with actresses Una Merkel and Phyllis Brooks to entertain American troops. "I was the comic relief," he told the Saturday Evening Post, acting out Jack Benny scripts the soldiers had not yet heard. "Me, as Jack Benny!" he exclaimed.
One night in Port Moresby, New Guinea, he was dozing in his tent when a cloudburst threatened to cancel the night's show. But 15,000 troops were waiting on a muddy slope. So Cooper, Merkel and Brooks headed to the stage covered with canvas tarps, along with accordionist Andy Arcari. When they finished their act, a soldier shouted, "Hey, Coop, how about Lou Gehrig's farewell speech to the Yankees?" The soldiers had recently seen Pride, so it was not a surprise that more troops demanded he play the Iron Horse again.
"The boys began to shout in union for the farewell speech," he said. He asked that they let him step inside a tent, to give him time to remember the speech as well as he could. "I don't want to leave out anything," he said he told them. As he jotted down the words, a tent pole slipped, and rain poured down his neck. Finally, with the speech done, he came out and recited it. "It was a silent bunch that listened to it," he wrote.
After that, he said, no matter where the troupe went on their 24,000-mile tour -- to Doddura, Milen Bay, Goodenough Island, Hollandia, Lae and Darwin -- new requests came for the speech. "They were the words of a brave American who had only a short time to live," Cooper later recalled, "and they meant to something to those kids in the Pacific."
Read the whole piece here, and after that, watch Major League Baseball's tribute, which features Gehrig's most famous lines spoken by each of the league's starting first basemen:
9:54 AM, Jul 5, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama is spending today, the day after the Fourth of July holiday, hitting the links. Via the pool reporter, he's with his buddies Martin Nesbitt and Dr. Eric Whitaker:
12:29 PM, Jul 4, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
At a pre-Independence Day naturalization ceremony at the Treasury Department Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew used about one-third of his address to a roomful of newly sworn-in citizens to criticize the America’s immigration system and plug the current immigration legislation. According to prepared remarks, he told these newest Americans that "too many immigrants do not get a fair shot at the American dream.
11:11 AM, Jul 4, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The hot dog is in decline in America, writes Paul Lukas at Bloomberg, and one thinks, "What isn't?" What institution, anyway. If everything were not in decline, then what would there be for journalists to write about (see Andrew Ferguson on George Packer and Haynes Johnson) and what would politicians have to campaign about?
10:50 AM, Jul 4, 2013 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
On this 4th of July, I presume that TWS readers are soberly re-reading their Jefferson and carefully studying their Lincoln. But this shouldn't be a day of too much solemnity. So here's a stirring cinematic moment to revisit, from the 1996 hit Independence Day, and enjoy:
12:00 AM, Jul 2, 2013 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress declared independence. George Washington declared that day that “The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves....The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army.” A useful reminder for us, in a week when we rightly celebrate a Declaration, a document embodying a great idea, that speech needs to be backed up by arms, and that all still depends on the "courage and conduct" of our armed forces.
7:05 AM, Jul 1, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Vice President Joe Biden, along with his wife, Jill Biden, will spend this week Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
The White House emailed Biden's schedule:
DAILY GUIDANCE FOR THE VICE PRESIDENT AND DR. JILL BIDEN
Fourth of July reflections on the Queen’s Jubilee. Jul 16, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 41 • By GERTRUDE HIMMELFARB
It was perhaps inevitable that our Fourth of July celebrations last week might have seemed anti-climactic after the four-day festivities a month ago accompanying the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Fireworks, however spectacular, cannot compare with the thousand-boat flotilla on the Thames cheered on by masses of river-side spectators (shivering and soaking in torrential rain) or the horse-drawn carriage procession (again, the streets lined with people) from Westminster Hall to Buckingham Palace, the Queen regally bedecked and costumed.
11:26 AM, Jul 4, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
Speaker of the House John Boehner's Fourth of July tribute to the Declaration of Independence:
“If you’re like me, when you enter the Capitol Rotunda, your eyes are drawn to Trumbull’s depiction of the Declaration of Independence. And why not? It’s humbling to stop and think about how it all began.
12:00 AM, Jul 4, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
If you're in the mood for reading a bit this July 4th, there are many fine Independence Day speeches and orations to choose from. Here are three that I find particularly moving:
1:33 PM, Jul 3, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama will celebrate July 4 tomorrow at the White House with a naturalization ceremony, the White House announced today. The president will be joined by Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano.