The Monday Memo
July 7, 2014 PITT DPT STUDENTS
“The Gratitude of Living”
This July 4th marks both the 238th birthday of the United States of America and the 75th anniversary of “Lou Gehrig Day”. Gehrig, the famed first-baseman of the New York Yankees during the 1920’s and 1930’s, had been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, which brought his career to an unfortunate end. To celebrate Gehrig and help him bid farewell to the game, the Yankees staged Lou Gehrig Day on July 4, 1939. The event was capped by a speech from Gehrig himself, now considered one of the greatest speeches in sports history. It has been compared in resonance, tone, and length to the Gettysburg Address. Gehrig began with the now famous introduction:
“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.”
At this point, Gehrig had a 50/50 chance of survival from a disease that was virtually unknown. His heartbreaking demise evoked such a great fear for what loomed ahead of Gehrig. However, his historic speech was not a goodbye, not a speech about courage or defiance. Gehrig’s oration was about gratitude for life, for people, for all the gifts that come along with living. Gehrig proceeded to list a handful of those things he was so grateful for – his family, his parents, and his chance to play the game he loved so dearly – all of which was summed up by his final statement:
“So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for.”
Rather than speaking on hardship or adversity, Gehrig chose the topic of gratitude. Appreciating what you have been given is what drives the courage to fight on in such ugly circumstances. Gehrig’s speech is revered for its simplicity and grace but also for it’s strong and eloquent message: that gratitude for life should never be forgotten, no matter the conditions.
– Jeremy Harris
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