Franklin D. Roosevelt photo

Radio Address for the Birthday Ball for Crippled Children.

January 30, 1941

From the bottom of my heart I thank all of you- every man, woman and child who has labored with my old friends, Basil O'Connor and Keith Morgan, in this great cause. And let me, at the outset, also give you my thanks in behalf of all those victims of infantile paralysis to whom this celebration tonight spells a new hope and a new courage.

Most of all, I am grateful to America—for reaffirming at this hour America's humanity, America's active concern for its children. This is the eighth birthday in a row which all of you have made an occasion for joining hands in this national humanitarian effort.

I cannot say, as you can well understand, that this is for me a completely happy birthday. These are not completely happy days for any of us in the world. Shall we say that American birthdays this year are being made at least happier than they would otherwise be because all of us are still living under a free people's philosophy?

It is not only that the lights of peace blaze in our great cities and glow in our towns and villages—that laughter and music still ring out from coast to coast—that we will return to safe beds tonight.

It is not that we feel no concern for the plight of free peoples elsewhere in the world; that we do not hope that they may continue the freedom of their governments and their ways of life in the days to come.

It is because we believe in and insist on the right of the helpless, the right of the weak, and the right of the crippled everywhere to play their part in life- and survive.

It is because we know instinctively that this right of the unfortunate comes under our free people's philosophy from the bottom up and can never be imposed from the top down.

I do have satisfaction on this birthday of mine because of the fact that definite progress has been made in these past twenty years on a national scale in the fight against infantile paralysis. In a very broad but a very definite sense, this fight is a true part of the national defense of America.

I have always tried to remember that the particular problem of infantile paralysis does call for a truly national fight. We have it in every State of the Union. We are at last organizing adequately to fight it.

We have had to face the necessity of uniting medical scientists and doctors and nurses and public health officers and the general public into a unique offensive—and the battle year by year is gaining greater success.

This year-in, year-out campaign culminating on each January thirtieth has had, and still has, the support of almost everyone from those who give large sums down to the school children of the Nation who contribute their pennies. Clearly, unquestionably, we are winning the fight- winning it, thanks to all of you.

And so, to all of you I give my own thanks for the rarest birthday present of all—the gift of your charity, the gift of your kindliness to each other and to the Nation.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Radio Address for the Birthday Ball for Crippled Children. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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