Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Persons With Disabilities Awareness & History Month

In the Republic of Texas, October is the state's Persons With Disabilities Awareness and History Month.

Governor Perry commenced this year's observance with a proclamation and statement:

Throughout our state’s history, Texans with disabilities have played an important role in making Texas the greatest state in our nation to work and raise a family. Demonstrating the remarkable qualities of the Texas spirit – courage, independence and ingenuity – they have filled some of our highest offices, fought in historic battles and contributed to the art and culture of our state.

Each year, October is designated Persons with Disabilities History and Awareness Month in Texas. Not only do we celebrate the many Texans with disabilities who have influenced our history, we also recognize the endeavor toward full civil rights and equal opportunity for all.

At this time, I encourage all Texans to learn more about the achievements of people with disabilities who have contributed so much to our society and about the disability rights movement as it takes its rightful place as part of the story of Texas. I am proud of the activities across our state commemorating this month and the motivating principle behind our celebrations: the recognition that Texas’ finest resource is the people who call it home.
Therefore, I, Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, do hereby proclaim October 2013 to be
Persons with Disabilities History and Awareness Month  in Texas, and urge the appropriate
recognition whereof.
People with physical shortcomings, hindrances, and disabilities have long prospered in spite of (and sometimes, because of) these obstacles.

Beethoven was deaf, yet he became one of history's greatest composers.

Stephen Hawking is confined to a wheelchair and must use a computer to generate convert his thoughts to speech. Yet, he is one of the greatest theoretical physicists of our age.

The list goes on and on.

My wife, Melissa, is mildly dyslexic. In addition, during military training a few years ago, she shattered her leg. She is legally and officially a disabled veteran. Her injury occurred not long after we started dating. Being military, our relationship was largely a long-distance one for several years.

Shortly after the operation that restored partial use of her leg, I took leave for an extended visit (longer than a weekend). Her physical therapy and other appointments brought her to Brooke Army Medical Center on Fort Sam Houston. There I witnessed a multitude of fellow Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. In contrast to my own condition, many were missing limbs. Others had Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) which can have the same symptoms of severe PTSD. Those I encountered were in good spirits. One guy, a double-leg amputee, was jumping around willy-nilly in joy over his new prosthetic legs. He needed  to learn better motor control. However, he couldn't wait to get into physical therapy and learn how to RUN on them. I asked where he was from. He answered "Wichita Falls, TX".

These are but examples of thousands of such Texans. Their accomplishments are extraordinary. Most you would not realize are "disabled" in any way. They don't let those injuries stop them or define them. You should not either.

Another, spotlighted by Governor Perry's committee on people with disabilities, is the tale of  the founder of El Paso, TX's McGinty Club. The founder, "Peg" Grandover started the famous organization in 1889.

During October, be aware of disabilities. More than that, though, be aware that those obstacles may also be trampolines.