JUNE 27, 1957
NEW YORK—A very great woman, Miss Helen Keller, was born on this date and I want to salute her and mention something which, I think, will be of interest all over the country. It is a film which is practically the story of Miss Keller's life. It ran for only a very short time on Broadway but since has been bought and shown by literally thousands of groups in schools, colleges, churches, libraries and other organizations.
I hope the time will come when there is no place in this country, no matter how small, where this film has not been shown.
Contemporary Films, Inc., of New York tells me it never has had a film so enthusiastically received. I can only think that this is because it tells the story of a woman who overcame tremendous difficulties.
True, Miss Keller had the help of remarkable people who recognized that here was a challenge, a great intellect imprisoned by physical handicaps—inability to speak because she could not hear, blind as well—and yet strong and healthy with a mind, a heart and a spirit which had a message for mankind if only the way could be found for her to communicate it.
Her teachers, her companions, her friends all made their contribution, but without her remarkable courage and persistence no one could have helped her to the ultimate development which has made her an inspiration to people all over the world.
All handicapped persons are encouraged when they realize what Miss Keller has overcome. But especially to men who suffered in the war and had to face handicaps at a youthful age, very often she has brought comfort and courage as no other human being could do.
Those of us who have no handicaps can learn to minimize our own difficulties when we see what Helen Keller has achieved, and those who are struggling with great difficulties can take heart and go on until they win out in their own fight.
So, on this June 27, let us all join in saying "Happy Birthday!" to Miss Keller, with wishes that her own life may be a long and happy one.
I have just received word through the National Recreation Association of an article appearing in the June issue of its magazine, Recreation. This article informs the public of something which should be carefully considered.
All of us want good roads, and the thruways which make it possible for us to travel more quickly and safely by automobile are paid for more or less happily by people of every state in the Union.
But Recreation points out that some of the thruways, planned or under construction, may take much land—perhaps 2,000,000 acres—away from the public parks and playgrounds of the nation. Some of this land is in metropolitan areas where green spaces are of particular value and interest to the public. The magazine says:
"Today, from coast to coast, bulldozers are busily gouging the earth where once stood woodlands or lawns of cool, green shade. They are cutting across towns and wilderness areas alike—leveling forest giants, hemlocks and hickories, ploughing up the rhododendron beds and the dogwoods of the parks.
"Public tennis courts, ball fields, playgrounds, fishing ponds and camp sites are being sacrificed to quick transportation in this day of speed, and communities are running out of land for recreation and beauty."
Surely, with a little effort it will be possible to find alternate highway routes and not use these precious areas that mean so much to the future of our country.