When we happen to face any sickness of any kind of a health challenge, we tend to think that it is end of our life. This is the worst kind of attitude to have. It can only make one worse, not better. One of the great men we should all know about and get inspiration from is President Roosevelt.
“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent”, said Eleanor Roosevelt. She should know this better than others, as The Presidency of her husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was unique in many obvious ways. He was elected four times, serving just over 12 years before he died. We usually remember the American presidents who had a war to contend with or a huge domestic crisis. President Roosevelt had to tackle both, the Depression and World War II.
When President Roosevelt was president, from March 1933 to April 1945, it was not a secret that he had had a severe bout with polio. However, the extent of his disability was not well known. Not only could he not walk, but he could not stand without braces that ran the entire length of his legs.
In those days, people were generally, inhibited about referring to someone’s disability. The rare reference to him as “a cripple” was meant to cripple Roosevelt politically, and it always backfired as his leadership was indeed perfect and flawless.
Oddly enough the public today may be less aware of President Roosevelt’s disability than the public was when he was alive.
However it is essential that people know of his disability. Knowing this will make us understand that any disability is a disability only if we view it as such. In fact, knowing he was crippled shall make us understand him more completely. President Roosevelt could have died from the severity of his polio attack in 1921. As it was he lost all movement in his legs and even some strength in his right hand. For six to seven years he tried to regain some use of his legs, but his success was marginal.
Within the first year of contracting polio, when the extent of President Roosevelt’s disability became generally known in political circles as it could hardly be hidden in public appearances and his political future was written off.
When he successfully returned to politics in New York State, he was vastly relieved to find that his disability seemed to have had little impact on voters. When President Roosevelt ran for president in 1932 he and his advisers again worried about the impact of his disability, but it turned out to be an issue of no consequence. As a campaign issue it never surfaced during his career.
This does not mean that President Roosevelt was open or casual about his inability to walk. On the contrary, he wanted little or no mention of it, particularly any comment that conveyed sympathy. Even his family made no mention of it except if some practical arrangements were to be made.
As the years go by, fewer and fewer Americans will appreciate the fact that their forebears were quite happy to elect a disabled person as president of the United States.
We cannot allow the memory of President Roosevelt’s disability to fade as this will make us realize even more clearly that there is nothing the disabled cannot do.
With this knowledge, we all, whether disabled or able will surely believe nothing is impossible.