My calendar lists three dates of interest in June: Flag Day, the summer solstice and, on Wednesday, June 27, Helen Keller's birthday.
It will be the 132nd anniversary of the birth of a most remarkable woman, and Nov. 17 will mark the 68th anniversary of her visit to Oklahoma.
Many people know the story of her early life from the television drama, play and movie “The Miracle Worker,” which portrays the momentous event when Keller was able, with the help of teacher Anne Sullivan, to associate the word “water” with the liquid that was flowing over her hand.
Keller was born with normal hearing and sight, but lost both at the age of 19 months due to a mysterious fever.
As she grew older, she became uncontrollable as her frustrations from trying to communicate increased.
At the age of 7, Keller was brought to Massachusetts' Perkins School of the Blind, and there, she met teacher Anne Sullivan, an association that would last 49 years.
From the moment Sullivan communicated the concept of water to Keller, she began to learn. She would attend and graduate from Radcliffe College.
Keller became an author, speaker, humanitarian and an inspiration to the world.
In November of 1944, with World War II still being waged, she came to Chickasha to visit battle-deafened soldiers at Borden General Hospital. She was on a coast-to-coast tour of Army hospitals.
The Oklahoman on Nov. 14, 1944, announced her visit: “Miss Keller will discuss the rehabilitation problems of the veterans, giving special attention to those who were blinded and those suffering from deafness.”
When Keller died June 1, 1968, The Oklahoman interviewed John A. Morris, who in 1944 was the director of the speech and hearing center at Borden General Hospital in Chickasha.
“The warmth and love that humanity has must be like the calm, beautiful peaceful sunset of Oklahoma.”
Keller, then 63, visited at the hospital for three days, and spoke in the Red Cross Auditorium, Morris said.
“Her purpose was to inspire the soldiers. She had a forceful, vivacious personality ... most agreeable,” he said.
It was during one of her speeches in the auditorium that she spoke of the “calm, beautiful peaceful sunset of Oklahoma,” Morris remembered. “It is paraphrased, but from my memory, that's almost exactly what she said. I've quoted it many times.”
Morris said a “companion” repeated everything Keller said to the soldiers. “Her voice quality was not the best.”
“But I understood her quite well in conversation. It was amazing how she got everything I said from just a finger on the throat and a finger on the lips and the rest of her hand pressed lightly on my face.”
Keller spoke abstractly, and her vocabulary would rival any platform speaker, Morris said.
“I was amazed that she could get such a vocabulary (being blind and deaf from an early age) and put it in such beautiful phrases.”
Her vocabulary was above average, he said.
“I visited with her quite a while. She was very alive, very interesting ... enthusiastic.
“One who met her, I don't think would ever forget her,” he said.
Read “The Archivist” at blog.NewsOK.com/archivist.