[nfbmi-talk] FW: Helen Keller statue unveiled

Fred Wurtzel f.wurtzel at comcast.net
Thu Oct 8 10:46:58 CDT 2009

-----Original Message-----
Subject: Helen Keller statue unveiled
The information below should tie in very nicely with efforts to sell
Louis Braille coins.  After all, Helen Keller's language of literacy was
really Braille.  
-----Original Message-----

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A bronze statue of Helen Keller was unveiled at the
U.S. Capitol on Wednesday as lawmakers praised her as a trailblazer and
an inspiration for those with disabilities.

The Helen Keller statue depicts the moment when Anne Sullivan spelled
"W-A-T-E-R" into the child's hand 

The Helen Keller statue depicts the moment when Anne Sullivan spelled
"W-A-T-E-R" into the child's hand 

"Some are still dismissed and cast aside for nothing more than being
less than perfect," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky,
said at the unveiling ceremony. "The story of Helen Keller inspires us

The statue shows Keller -- who lost her sight and hearing to illness
when she was 19 months old -- standing at a water pump as a 7-year-old,
a look of recognition on her face as water streams into her hand. It
depicts the moment in 1887 when teacher Anne Sullivan spelled
"W-A-T-E-R" into one of the child's hands as she held the other under
the pump. It's the moment when Keller realized meanings were hidden in
the manual alphabet shapes Sullivan had taught her to make with her

"W-A-T-E-R," said Alabama Gov. Bob Riley. "Five simple letters that
helped rescue 7-year-old Helen Keller  from a world of darkness and a
world of silence.

"It is this defining moment that we celebrate today. And in time, this
moment so vividly depicted by this statue helped the world to understand
that all of us, regardless of any disability, have a mind that can be
educated, a hand that can be trained, a life that will have meaning."

Keller learned to speak and earned a degree from Radcliffe College and
the women's branch of Harvard University. She traveled the world as an
adult, wrote
12 books and championed causes including women's suffrage and workers'

Carl Augusto, president and CEO of the American Foundation for the
Blind, told the crowd he thinks Keller, who worked for the foundation
for the last 44 years of her life, "would have loved this impressive
statue of herself and the symbolism attached."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and others assisted Augusto
as he ran his hands over the statue.

The foundation, Augusto said, still considers Keller "our guiding light.
She embodies the American spirit of limitless possibility ... her
biggest desire was to leave the world a better place than she found it,
and ladies and gentlemen, that's the legacy she leaves all of us."

More than 40 of Keller's descendants attended the ceremony in the
Capitol Rotunda. Students from the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and
Blind sang a medley of patriotic songs. 

The statue, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, will "always
remind us that people must be respected for what they can do rather than
judged for what they cannot."

The statue is also the Capitol's first depicting a child, Riley's office

Since 1864, each state has been allowed to place two statues in the
Capitol. In 2002, Congress changed the law to allow states to change
their statues.
Riley, then a U.S. representative, suggested the state place a statue of
Keller, and the state Legislature passed a resolution asking Congress to
accept a statue of Keller as a gift.

A committee with Alabama first lady Patsy Riley serving as honorary
chairwoman raised private donations and selected Utah bronze sculpture
artist Edward Hlavka to create the piece.

The 600-pound statue is made of bronze with a base of Alabama marble,
Riley's office said.

In 1997, a Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial that opened near the
National Mall drew complaints from disability advocates because the
statue of the president, who suffered from polio, did not show him in a
wheelchair. In 2001, President Clinton unveiled an addition to the
memorial including a new statue of the four-term president sitting in a

"By placing this statue in the Capitol, we appropriately honor this
extraordinary American, and will inspire countless children who will
come to understand that with faith and with courage, there truly are no
limits on what can be accomplished, and there is no obstacle that can't
be overcome," Riley said.

Keller's statue will replace one depicting Jabez Curry. Curry, who has
represented Alabama in the Capitol since 1908, was a Georgia native who
served as president of Howard College, which later became Samford
University in Birmingham. The Curry statue is being sent back to Alabama
for display at the university.

The other statue representing Alabama is of Joseph "Fightin' Joe"
Wheeler, a Confederate general during the Civil War who, three decades
later, volunteered to serve in the Spanish-American War at age 62 and
attained the same rank in the U.S. Army, the only one of 425 Confederate
generals to do so, according to a biography of him posted on the Fort
Sam Houston Museum's Web site.
His statue was donated by the state in 1925, Riley's office said. 
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