Richard Nixon photo

Proclamation 3914—Helen Keller Memorial Week

May 29, 1969

By the President of the United States Of America

A Proclamation

Deaf-blind people are isolated from our world by formidable communications barriers. Yet, we know that pioneering social concern and the released genius of Helen Keller united to penetrate those barriers and produce a person who symbolized the vast potential resource of severely handicapped human beings. Miss Keller became an American ambassador-at-large to the world because she was unexcelled in interpreting the Nation's philosophy of respect for the unique inherent qualities of each individual.

Her recognition of this philosophy was never more eloquently expressed than when she said: "What I am, my country has made me. She has fostered the spirit which has made my education possible." At the same time, Helen Keller was deeply aware that she was miraculously fortunate to have been discovered by persons who were able to give her the priceless gift of language, which was what she needed to light up her extraordinary mind.

As the years passed, Miss Keller became increasingly concerned with those persons who were deprived of sight and hearing. Her later years were dedicated almost entirely to providing the deaf-blind with the kind of opportunities which had yielded such great benefit for her.

It is, therefore, fitting that we designate, as a memorial to Helen Keller, one week during which we may give special thought to the needs of our countrymen who are handicapped by the loss of sight and hearing. The minds of these people are forever imprisoned unless we muster every available resource to reach and rehabilitate them. Attaining this goal requires not only the use of such special techniques as lip reading, manual alphabet, and braille materials but the concern and commitment of all of us to let these people know they are a vital part of our society.

Now, Therefore, I, Richard Nixon, President of the United States of America, in consonance with Senate Joint Resolution 99, do hereby designate the week beginning June 1, 1969, as Helen Keller Memorial Week.

I invite appropriate officers of the Federal, State, and local governments, the heads of voluntary and private groups, and all Americans everywhere to join in this observance. I urge them to find suitable means for expressing determination to cultivate a public understanding and sentiment in behalf of deaf-blind people and to devise a dynamic pattern for continuing their education, welfare and rehabilitation.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this 29th day of May, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred sixty-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred ninety-third.

Signature of Richard Nixon


NOTE: The Proclamation was released at Key Biscayne, Fla.

Richard Nixon, Proclamation 3914—Helen Keller Memorial Week Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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