Saturday was a re-uniting of American Association of People with Disabilities interns to take of tour of the FDR Memorial. It was great seeing everyone again, and catching up on how those in the program were doing. Even more exciting was the work related stories that showed the professional journey we have all embarked. The FDR Memorial definitely seemed like an appropriate place for us to tour. After all, the most powerful person in the United States, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, had a very visible disability. I felt it would be an inspiring tour because FDR signifies that despite an individual’s difference in looks, specifically disability, they can be whatever they want in life. That is until I heard more of FDR’s story.
At the age of 39 former President Roosevelt contracted polio, where his main symptom was he lost the use of his legs. During his presidency most people did not know he was unable to walk, and that’s how he preferred it. It seems being his true self would undermine his strong political reputation and power. Thus he attempted to be known as something outside of a person with a disability. What type of lesson does that show us as AAPD interns? Should we hide instead of having pride?
Now my aim is not to disrespect a former President of the United States. There are a number of things that I admire about FDR term in office, however, when it comes to self identity it was saddening to see he couldn’t serve as a role model in that area. I don’t want to be a person to hide and ignores a fundamental description about me. My disability serves as a large part of my identity and serves as a connector between myself and a widespread community. Should we hide instead of having pride? Never!