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Happy Recollection, delivered before the Volta Bureau at Washington, D.C. (January 14, 1950)


"Happy Recollection"

Dear Friends:

Thrilled by your warm regard for me and full of affectionate memories I greet you.

How vividly I recall the beautiful spring day in Georgetown long ago when I stood among those who dedicated the new building of the Volta Bureau! Full of joy I turned the first sod with my teacher on one side and Alexander Graham Bell and Mr. John Hitz on the other. Around us was a lively throng of friends both deaf and hearing, many of whom could spell to me. Sadly I realize that most of them have departed from earth since, but I feel their spirits alive and breathing fresh courage into our gathering.

I was only fourteen years old at the beginning of the Volta Bureau, but I sensed Dr. Bell's enthusiasm in founding that unique establishment and afterwards the self-sacrificing labors with which my foster-father, as I called Mr. Hitz, made it a star shining out of the silence for the guidance of the deaf and their champions. After 54 years, I am gratified to see the activities of the Volta Bureau housed in spacious quarters. As the seed of the poinsetta (sic) lodges in the ground and illumines the air with flame-colored blossoms, so the noble friendship of Dr. Bell towards the deaf has enriched countless silent lives. Deafness still remains isolating -- even more so than blindness as I know from my own experiences, -- but it is gradually retreating before scientific methods of treatment and education, and I anticipate the day when all the deaf who wish it shall have a chance to swim through obstacles to the shores of accomplishment and normal living.

Let us hail the salvation of an increasing number whose loneliness is tempered by the sweetness of intercourse and human companionship. Let us lift up our hands in testimony to the broad highways which Dr. Bell laid for the deaf and the beauty of his memory as their friend and benefactor. May the Volta Bureau stimulate more progressive endeavors that shall at last equalize opportunity between the deaf and those who hear.

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