The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK—On Tuesday, April 12, doctors and interested individuals listened on special outlets while in Ann Arbor, Michigan, large crowds attended to hear the report on the tests of the Salk vaccine.

I was much touched some days beforehand to receive a letter from Dr. Jonas Salk telling me that all through his work he had had in mind my husband's illness and the interest and satisfaction that he would have taken in the final results.

I know that would have meant a great deal to my husband. Though he accepted the blow of the crippling attack of polio and went forward with never a complaint, still anyone remembering him as a young athletic and strong man could not fail to realize what a terrific battle must have gone on within before this acceptance was possible.

Though we can look back today and realize that the character developed at that time—the enforced thinking and feeling—probably prepared him for much of the work that he was to do in the future, still we cannot minimize the agony of soul that must have been endured. His interest in helping others came from the understanding of his own battle, which must have been a motivating force.

Therefore, I realize what it would have meant to him to know that the two most dangerous forms of polio can now be handled with such a tremendous percentage of success.

The work that it has meant for Dr. Salk and all his associates is tremendous, but I also think their satisfaction must be very great.

Naturally, much work remains to be done. A long time will elapse before all children in this country and those in other parts of the world will have been immunized and also for a long time progress in treatments will have to go forward for the many persons who have suffered during the last few years.

Polio is not a disease that can be conquered in a few brief weeks, or even months. A victim may have to spend years rehabilitating himself to the point of even a moderately normal life. So, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis will have to go on raising money for present sufferers and for those cases that will, of course, occur among those who have not been immunized or who have not responded to immunization.

In addition, a discovery, once made, nearly always leads scientists to perceive new steps that may be taken and that is why research has to go on. In the case of the National Foundation I think research must go on for some time to come. They may find that the discoveries that have been made may lead them to new discoveries along allied lines or perhaps along entirely new lines.

No one could have the right to stop the research work at this point, for quite certainly there is more to be learned because of the work that Dr. Salk has already done.

(Distributed by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 15, 1955

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.