An anniversary on a couple of fronts

Happy 233rd birthday USA!

The Fourth of July has long been one of my favorite holidays. I love the history of the American Revolution. And there’s grilling, fireworks, maybe a trip to the lake. What’s not to like?

Today is also a big anniversary for the sports world in particular. Seventy years ago, on July 4, 1939, recenty retired New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig gave his inspirational speech at Yankee Stadium, proclaiming himself the "luckiest man on the face of the earth." A poster of that day hangs in the computer room from which I’m typing this blog.

There stood a man – dying from a disease that would come to bare his name – proclaiming to a sellout crowd that he had an awful lot to live. That speech remains one of the landmark moments in baseball’s history, transcending the game in a way that people who don’t give a lick about baseball appreciate the speech and its message.

So to pay tribute to Gehrig, here’s his speech, in its entirety. Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I’m lucky.

When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift – that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies — that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter — that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body — it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed – that’s the finest I know.

So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.  

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