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Post-Polio Health (ISSN 1066-5331)

Vol. 17, No. 1, Winter 2001

New FDR Statue Dedicated 

photo of statue of FDR using wheelchair

"This is a monument to freedom – the power of every man and woman to transcend circumstance, to laugh in the face of fate, to make the most of what God has given."
William Jefferson Clinton, January 10, 2001

President Bill Clinton unveiled a new statue of Franklin Delano Roosevelt sitting in a wheelchair at the FDR Memorial in Washington, DC. The life-sized likeness marks the conclusion of a six-year campaign, led by the National Organization on Disability, www.nod.org, to add a statue that acknowledges FDR's disability. 

The bronze sculpture, by Robert Graham of Venice California, is located at the entrance of the memorial across from the Information Center and Bookshop. The statue depicts Roosevelt's self-designed combination kitchen chair/commercial wheelchair. Positioned at ground level, the sculpture is easily accessible to all. 

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, FDR's granddaughter and co-chairman of the committee that raised the $1.65 million for the project, told the crowd when introducing President Clinton: 

"This is an important day – but not just for those who are disabled. It is an important day for all of us. 

"Jim Dixon told me that when, as a child, he was diagnosed with certain and impending blindness – his mother told him as they stood outside the doctor's office, 'If FDR can be president from a wheelchair, you can do anything you want to do in life.' 

"This is the message that gets carried forward here today – and forever in this memorial. To be acknowledged for what we can do, and for what we do do – not isolated for what we can't do, is what all disabled persons strive for. 

"And isn't it what we all strive for? And doesn't FDR's courage, and his heart, and his will inspire us?

"This is a memorial for all of us."