Each week I have spent here in Washington has had its share of challenges, but also has had more than its share of experiences that put the challenges in perspective and make them worthwhile. One such experience was the FDR Memorial tour led by Jim Dickson this past Saturday morning. We had a rather large group, consisting of the AAPD Summer Interns, AAPD staff, and a fair amount of family members of interns. What made the morning special was not the nearly perfect weather. It was not just being surrounded by new friends that share a common bond. It was not simply the fact that our tour guide was hugely responsible (more than once that day did I hear the term “legit” used to describe Jim) for ensuring that the content of the memorial depicted the struggles and triumphs of FDR, but that it also reminds us all of the work that remains.
It was amazing to hear the story of a president who hid his disability because of the stigma attached- and have it told by someone who fought to have the memorial to that president depicted in a way that shows not only how great FDR was, but the lengths to which he went to keep his disability a secret from the world. Some of us get to hide our non-visible disabilities. Others do not. What remains to be seen is whether, now that this country has elected an African American president, how long before we elect a woman? And how long before we elect a person with an open and obvious disability? Jim fought to have the statue of FDR in a wheelchair included in the memorial. We need to fight so that the next great president with a disability is there because that person is accepted regard of their disability, rather, because of their ability.