JANUARY 17, 1953
NEW YORK, Friday—I received a rather pathetic letter the other day from a shut-in, that is to say a handicapped person who has to rely on other people to be taken about. She feels that most of us who do not have physical handicaps are lacking in understanding of the many ways in which we could be helpful. That stirred my thoughts and perhaps it will stir you to do things you might not think of otherwise.
She writes: "Specifically, I am referring to the fact that no facilities have been set up for us to register or to vote and thus express our opinion in this democracy. We who are afflicted, tied with chains of physical circumstances to wheel chairs and stretcher beds are constantly battling with the people in the outer world to be recognized as human beings...The only way we ever get a chance to express ourselves is if we are fortunate enough to have someone of our own, or a friend, to wheel us to the polling place...I feel that the government should provide for us as well as for other citizens."
This woman lives in a home for the chronically ill. Her letter has made me think of how many things must happen in a day when we, if we are unable to take part ourselves, would want to feel included instead of being barred from the general stream of life. Registering and voting, it seems to me, could be made possible for handicapped people by some form of home application blank and medical affidavit.
Here we are again in the midst of the March of Dimes campaign, carried out every year under the auspices of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.
It has been more difficult than usual in this month of January to get publicity for this campaign. Big events have held the headlines and taken much of the space. Prime Minister Churchill's arrival, the inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, airplane accidents, ship accidents—all these things are important daily news, and yet the 1953 March of Dimes campaign may be one of the most important things for our future.
If we can keep up the high level of giving that the people of the nation have attained in the last few years so that our research may continue, we may soon reach the point where we may be able to say that within the next few years we will have discovered the cure for and set up means to prevent infantile paralysis. In the meantime, the need for the care of those who are stricken will be as great as ever, and the Foundation must help by continuing its research without a letdown. Only in that way will we win this fight in a short time.
On Wednesday afternoon I went to Poughkeepsie. My granddaughter, Chandler, came up from Vassar and she and I were talking to Dr. Henry Noble MacCracken, who is doing some fine things with the Dutchess Country chapter of the American Association for the U.N., when in walked my son, John, and his wife, Anne. They had also come up for the night.
After dinner Chandler went back to college and my kind neighbors from Highland, N.Y., for whom I was going to speak on the U.N. activities, came to take me over to the PTA meeting at the high school. It was a good meeting and I hope everyone knew more about the U.N. at the end of the evening than they knew before!
Thursday morning I drove down with my son and daughter-in-law and ran into all that fog that upset the harbor traffic and disrupted traffic by air and by sea. The rest of the day was busy but I'll tell you more about that tomorrow.