July 4, 1951 – America was 175 years old on this day. And even at 175, we were still in the grip of war. Korea was the battleground and Communism was the issue. Communism and the fear that came along with it. The war in Korea and the faint glimmer of a settlement somewhere in the wreckage. On this day, truce talks were heading to a conclusion and Gen. Matthew Ridgeway was expected to announce acceptance of the Chinese and North Korean proposal. A proposal that begins with preliminaries in the city of Kaesong over the coming Sunday. In anticipation of the opening of negotiations the fighting had almost stopped all along the front in the important Iron Triangle on the West Central front, and on the Central front, the Chinese were reported in retreat toward their base and Pyongyang and the G.I’s were celebrating the 4th.
Meanwhile, the Russians consented to Four-Power trade talks in Berlin for the first time in two years. In Prague, a five judge court sentenced Associated Press correspondent William Otis to 10 years in prison for espionage. Five years of that sentence would be remitted if Otis behaved himself. The State Department issued a complaint, saying the court trial and conviction constituted an attempt by Czechoslovakia to intimidate the free world press.
And from London came a special report from St. Paul’s Cathedral where a ceremony was taking place honoring the names of 28,000 American servicemen who had died during World War 2, now enshrined at the cathedral. The ceremony was attended by General Dwight Eisenhower, Queen Elizabeth, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, Prime Minister Atlee and other notables.
And that’s just a small slice of what went on this July 4th in 1951, as reported by Don Hollenbeck, substituting for Edward R. Murrow and The News, 66 years ago today – 175 years since America got started.