Library Collections: Document: Full Text

The President's Birthday Message

Creator: n/a
Date: January 30, 1938
Publication: The President's Birthday Magazine
Publisher: National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis
Source: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library

Page 1   All Pages

Page 1:


At 11:30 in the Waldorf-Astoria the part of the Birthday Celebration, which was broadcast over every radio network and radio station -- via short wave to South America, Europe and the Far East -- the largest network of stations ever joined together, began with Miss Lucy Monroe singing The Star-Spangled Banner. Then the master of ceremonies said:


"Last Tuesday afternoon in New York City the first meeting of the Board of Trustees of the new National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis was held. At this meeting the Trustees unanimously elected as President of this new Foundation a very old and very dear friend of the President of the United States, a man who has devoted many years to the fight against infantile paralysis. Mr. Basil O'Connor of New York."


Mr. O'Connor's address:


"Ladies and gentlemen, in a few minutes you will hear the message from the President of the United Stales, and we all know it is in him that you are interested. Before that takes place, however, as president of the new National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, I want to tell you that I am very grateful to those of you who are here at the Waldorf. I am equally grateful to the millions of people throughout the country who tonight are helping to launch this new National Foundation by their participating in some Birthday Celebration. I know that your presence at these celebrations is, in part at least, a personal tribute to the President of the United States, but I am certain that he would want me to say to you that while he appreciates the great honor which you pay him, he wants to feel and believes that he can feel that you are here because you have a real interest, as he has, in the fight against infantile paralysis. I know that your being here tonight gives him and the rest of us strength and courage to go on with the great fight until this dread disease and its maiming after-effects are eliminated.


"You are at these celebrations to enjoy yourself and I hope that you do. I am certain that there is no group in the country tonight that will be happier in your enjoyment than that group handicapped by infantile paralysis. None of these celebrations would be possible, were it not for the untiring industry and organizing ability of Keith Morgan, from whom you will now hear."


Mr. Morgan, chairman of the Committee for the Celebration of the President's Birthday, spoke next:


"Mrs. James Roosevelt, Mr. Basil O'Connor, my mother and father who are here tonight, I salute you; as well as all of my guests and friends throughout the United States.


"There are listening in tonight throughout the United States, and the rest of the world, some 15,000 chairmen with their committees who have worked hard, laboriously, for the past three months to bring this occasion to a grand and glorious climax. I salute them and I thank them again and again. We could not have done this job without the unanimous support of the country -- without the great cooperation of the railroads, the hotels, the business firms, stores, the merchants, citizens, the clubs, the fraternal and labor organizations -- in fact, everyone. We simply could not have done this job without their wonderful cooperation, whole-hearted enthusiasm and support to embark on this great crusade to lick this devastating disease.


"Many years ago it was my great privilege to meet Mr. Basil O'Connor. As the chairman of the Executive Committee and the Treasurer of Georgia Warm Springs Foundation, his clear-headedness, his wisdom, his guidance and his courage and leadership have been a great tonic to us all. I know of no man in the United States whom the Trustees of the new National Foundation could have chosen with more unanimous approval and enthusiastic endorsement than my old friend Mr. Basil O'Connor. I can assure all the chairmen and the committees and everyone here tonight and those listening in that under hit direction the new Foundation will go for ward to greater and greater accomplishments as time goes on.


A number of years ago, as a young man it was my great privilege and a rare opportunity to meet a man who had been, we might say, hit by a traffic light which never seemed to change. I watched him work, I watched him struggle, I watched him study his subject, and I watched him resolve firmly that the thing that had afflicted him would not defeat him... and, furthermore, I watched him right through to the end. I watched him grow until he reached the most exalted position that could possibly be bestowed by the American people, the highest gift of our land, it not of the whole world.


"Tonight to all who are listening-in in the United States and throughout the world, and to all my friends and guests here, I give you my beloved chief, the President of the United States."


Then the President himself:


"My friends, my heart goes out in gratitude to the whole American people tonight -- for we have found common cause in presenting a solid front against an insidious but deadly enemy, the scourge of infantile paralysis.

Page 2:


"It is a very glorious thing for us to think of what has been accomplished in our own lifetime to cure epidemic diseases, to relieve human suffering and to save lives. It was by united effort on a national scale that tuberculosis has been brought under control; it was by united effort on a national scale that smallpox and diphtheria have been almost eliminated as dread diseases.


"Today the major fight of medicine and science is being directed against two other scourges, the toll of which is unthinkably great -- cancer and infantile paralysis. In both fields the fight is again being conducted with national unity -- and we believe with growing success.


"Tonight, because of your splendid help, we are making it possible to unite all the forces against one of these plagues by starting the work of the new National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. The dollars and dimes contributed tonight and in the continuing campaign will be turned over to this foundation, which will marshall its forces for the amelioration of suffering and crippling among infantile paralysis victims wherever they are found. The whole country remains the field of work. We expect through scientific research, through epidemic first aid, through dissemination of knowledge of care and treatment, through the provision of funds to centers where the disease may be combated through the most enlightened method and practice to help men and women and especially children in every part of the land.


"Since the first birthday celebrations in 1931, many splendid results have been accomplished so that in literally hundreds of localities facilities for combating the disease have been created where none existed before.


"We have learned much during these years and when, therefore, I was told by the doctors and scientists that much could be gained by the establishment of this new National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, I was happy, indeed, to lend my birthday to this united effort.


"During the past few days bags of mail have been coming, literally by the truck load, to the White House. Yesterday between forty and fifty thousand letters came to the mail room of the White House. Today an even greater number -- how many I cannot tell you -- for we can only estimate the actual count by counting the mail bags. In all the envelopes are dimes and quarters and even dollar bills -- gifts from grown-ups and children -- mostly from children who want to help other children get well.


"Literally, by the countless thousands, they are pouring in, and I have figured that if the White House staff and I were to work on nothing else for two or three months to come we could not possibly thank the donors. Therefore, because it is a physical impossibility to do it, I must take this opportunity of thanking all of those who have given, to thank them for the messages that have come with their gifts, and to thank all who have aided and cooperated in the splendid work we are doing. Especially am I grateful to those good people who have spread the news of these birthday parties throughout the land in every part of all the big cities and the smaller cities and towns and villages and farms.


"It is glorious to have one's birthday associated with a work like this. One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. And that kinship, which human suffering evokes, is perhaps the closest of all, for we know that those who work to help the suffering find true spiritual fellowship in that labor of love.


"So, although no word of mine can add to the happiness we share in this great service in which we are all engaged, I do want to tell you all how deeply I appreciate everything you have done. Thank you all and God bless you."


Immediately following and under the direction of Mr. James Sauter, the audience at the Waldorf Astoria Grand Ballroom, led by Miss Lucy Monroe, sang "Happy Birthday to You" for the President.

Page 1   All Pages

Pages:  1  2