Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Today is Helen Keller’s birthday.  

I’ve been a long-time admirer of Helen Keller. To say she was a remarkable woman doesn’t even begin to extol her achievements. 

Yes, we all remember the iconic scene at the water pump when she was seven years old and made the connection that the finger-spelling meant “water”. (Interestingly enough, Helen never had any memory of that event.) Impressive, yes, but by the time she was ten, she was tackling advanced German, French, Latin and Greek.

I wonder what she would think of kids nowadays who text “wer u at”.

She graduated cum laude from Radcliffe with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Geometry was a very challenging subject for her. Challenging? Can you imagine creating proofs about spacial concepts when you have no visualization of such? 

Early photographs of Helen always display her in profile in an attempt to hide her deformed eyes. As a young woman, her withered eyes were replaced with prosthetic ones (glass) that we later see. 

The folks at Fox News would absolutely loathe Helen Keller. 

She was an avid member of the Socialist Party of America, (gasp!) championed the causes of labor unions, campaigned for equal rights of women and African-Americans, and was outspoken about reproductive rights and the prevention of venereal diseases. 

I just finished reading the book, Helen Keller in Love. Yes, at the age of 37, Helen became engaged to a man nine years her junior. Upon learning of the engagement, Helen’s mother and brother-in-law thwarted the marriage, practically holding her hostage at the family home in Alabama. 

Her fiancé, Peter Fagan, never spoke to Helen again (or wasn’t allowed to). He later married, fathered five children, but kept a photo of Helen on his desk for the remainder of his life. Years later, one of his daughters contacted Helen and relayed this news to her. 

Yes, a big Happy Birthday to you, dear Helen. Though you could not see or hear, you opened the eyes and hearts of many who had been blinded by ignorance and fear. Through your eyes, we are able to see how truly radiant this world of ours can be.

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At 8:23 PM , Blogger Sadie J said...

Wow! I read the book that we all read in Jr. High about her life, but I didn't know the rest. What a remarkable woman. Thanks for sharing!

At 12:30 PM , Blogger Br. Jonathan said...

Thanks for you comment! I really appreciate it.

At 3:58 PM , Blogger Mom said...

I wish I could have known helen. she sounds like a remarkable woman. Thanks for this

At 8:58 AM , Blogger Barb said...

I was always fascinated by Helen Keller.... Even got to go to her home in Alabama. I can't even describe how I felt getting to see the well where she first spelled water.


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