“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged. Concentration is the secret of strength.”


When she was only nineteen months of age, Helen Keller suffered an illness that left her blind and deaf. Soon she was unable to speak. By the age of seven she was extremely frustrated by her inability to communicate. Fortunately, her parents were able to hire a 20-year-old teacher to come and live with them.

The teacher, Anne Sullivan, was a very capable and loving individual and was able to put courage into Helen by teaching her to communicate with the use of her fingers. Helen was greatly encouraged, learned to read by Braille and then read everything she could lay her hands on.

She desperately wanted to earn a university degree and, passing the entrance exams to Radcliffe, pleaded with officials to allow her to attend and bring Anne Sullivan with her to translate the lectures into her manual code. The following is part of what she wrote to the admissions office:

“I realize that the obstacles in the way of my receiving a college education are very great—to others they may seem insurmountable; but, dear Sir, a true soldier does not acknowledge defeat before the battle.”

Helen was admitted and graduated with high honors. She then spent the rest of her life helping to improve the lot of and put courage into other handicapped people at home and around the world.

Indeed, “A true soldier does not acknowledge defeat before the battle!” A good word for today.