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FDR Remarks at Dedication of Norman Wilson Memorial Hospital, Warm Springs, April 1, 1939


President Roosevelt’s Remarks at the Dedication
of the Norman Wilson Memorial Hospital
Warm Springs, Ga., April 1, 1939


[There were several speakers before Roosevelt, one of which mentioned that a copper box was being buried in front of the hospital, the box containing various appliances for the handicapped, newspapers, and a note from Roosevelt. Roosevelt alluded to this box in his remarks.]

Dr. Irwin was right when he spoke of this new building as the attainment of one of our major goals that we have been striving for for a great many years. I think it was eleven years ago that Henry Toombs and I one night worked on some sketch plans for the Campus. At that time there was no Campus. There was the old wooden hotel that many of us remember and a few off-center, ramshackle cottages down at this end and a few similar off-center ramshackle cottages at the other end. There was no order, no plan. At that time Henry Toombs and I put down on paper the first sketch of what is now the Warm Springs Campus.

I am glad that Dr. Irwin has also told you something about the great strides in the care of infantile paralysis during these intervening years. If at that time we had done more on that original plan than to put a square down at this end of the proposed Campus and label it “Medical Center,” if we had attempted to draw the plans of a Medical Center, medical science would have outdistanced us before the building was a year old.

Now, however, I think we all feel that we are working along lines of permanency in the development of medical care and that this building will last for generations to come because it has been designed right and built right.

So it is with great pleasure that I dedicate this building today, and I might add the thought that the braces and other implements which are about to be buried in the box are a symbol of what we are doing here at Warm Springs for the patients, getting rid of physical handicaps of every form and, where we cannot get rid of them altogether, making them so infinitesimal, so insignificant in the life of the individual that they no longer count.

I think that today can be put down as one of the great red-letter days in the history of the Foundation. We dedicate this building not only to those who are here now and those who will be here in the days to come, not only to that very small fraction of infantile paralysis sufferers that we now have room for, or will ever have room for at Warm Springs, but we dedicate this building to crippled boys and girls all over the United States and other countries for generations to come.

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