Richard Nixon photo

Remarks on Accepting the Hope Chest Award of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

May 20, 1969

Ladies and gentlemen:

I am very honored to receive this award, and I welcome the opportunity to state again my support for the National Multiple Sclerosis organization, for the work it has done and for the work it will be doing under the program that has just been outlined by the chairman.

I think it is quite significant that the drive for funds for this organization begins on Mother's Day and ends on Father's Day. And that allows me to make a point that is perhaps often overlooked.

Multiple sclerosis affects young people 20 to 40 years of age. The great tragedy of mothers and fathers and families having young people in their families, children who contract this disease, a disease that up until the time this society was rounded, was without hope, but that now has some hope--it seems to me that this brings home very eloquently why we should all support the fund-raising drive.

The fact that half a million Americans are volunteers working in this cause, the fact that half a million young Americans have contracted this disease and need this hope--all of this again brings home the message that we would like to convey through receiving this award.

Finally, one personal note that I think is related: I remember the first major league ball game I saw in the year 1936. I came from Duke University Law School, where I was attending. We were in Washington, D.C. It was a doubleheader in old Griffith Stadium.

On that occasion I recall what a thrill it was to see Lou Gehrig play. He, at that time, was playing for the Yankees. As I recall in that doubleheader, he hit at least one home run, possibly two.

We all know the great tragedy of Gehrig. Now, he did not die of multiple sclerosis; it was lateral sclerosis, a related disease. Here we saw a man who was an idol of young Americans. He was a young man himself and in the prime of life. His hope, as far as future activity was concerned, completely disappeared.

When we think of a man like that, I think it brings home to us what these dedicated volunteers--from business and others--what they are doing, and we thank you for what they are doing, and we wish you well in your activities.

MRS. BLACK. Mr. President, may I say a couple of words?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, you are always welcome.

[At this point Mrs. Shirley Temple Black, National Chairman of Volunteers for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, spoke. The President then resumed speaking.]

Well, I can only say that the participation of executives like Mr. Haughton, and people like Shirley Temple Black, as volunteers, and all of the rest who are here, that in itself is an inspiration.

I think it is very important that you brought home the point that while we have our political differences in the world, and while the world may be divided between the East and the West, and the East is divided within itself, and the West has its divisions, too, that when we talk about these diseases that afflict all people, and when we talk about the human suffering that occurs--not just to the individuals who have the disease, but within the families, the parents--that this is something that crosses all the political lines and all the geographical lines and whatever discoveries are made are going to help the whole world.

That is why I think this is a cause far bigger than this little ceremony that we have here. It is as big as the whole world itself.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 11 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. Daniel J. Haughton, president of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, presented the Hope Chest Award to the President. Remarks of Mr. Haughton and Mrs. Shirley Temple Black are printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 5, P. 722).

The ceremony marked the formal start of a 5-year program to raise $10 million to further research programs of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Richard Nixon, Remarks on Accepting the Hope Chest Award of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives