Friday, April 5, 2013

Helen Keller's Miracle

photo of Helen Keller with Anne Sullivan
Helen Keller, age 8, with her tutor Anne Sullivan
 in Cape Cod MA - public domain, Wikimedia Commons
Anyone who has seen or read "The Miracle Worker" will remember with awe the moment when Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller's teacher, provided her with the key to understanding language by pouring water on her hand and spelling out w-a-t-e-r on it. This day marks the anniversary of that epiphany, when Keller was able to associate the meaning of the letters with the flowing substance on her hand. It took tremendous effort for Sullivan to teach Keller, blind and deaf due to childhood meningitis, the rudiments of language and communication. Years later, Keller would become the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor's Degree, thanks to the influence of Mark Twain who introduced her to Standard Oil magnate Henry Huttleston Rogers, who paid for her education. Twain was a great admirer of both Keller and Sullivan, who together showed the world how people with disabilities can achieve miraculous things. Keller would become an activist, advocate, and pacifist, who opposed Woodrow Wilson. She was very progressive for her day, a fact which is often forgotten since her deafblindness tended to eclipse her other qualities and activities. She remains one of the most admired people of the 20th century.

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