When President George W. Bush was in office, many people were curious as to whether or not he had ever been diagnosed with a learning disability like dyslexia. While there were more than enough jokes to try to explain his "Bushims," it also showed that we now live in a time when a disability, both visual and non-visual, can be identified and diagnosed properly.
Still, that doesn't mean that individuals facing a disability have it easy. It's a constant battle, but one that can be defeated. For example, here are eleven presidents who were able to successfully overcome a disability.
1. George Washington
"99% of failures come from people who make excuses."
Throughout his life, Washington struggled with spelling and grammar. It's widely believed that he had a learning disability, specifically dyslexia, and taught himself to correct the problem. Despite this learning disability, Washington became the father of our country after being the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and being elected unanimously as the first President of the United States of America.
2. Thomas Jefferson
"Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing."
It's believed that Jefferson battled several learning disabilities, such as stuttering and dyslexia. Jefferson, however loved to read – his personal library contained thousands of books – and is remembered for authoring the Declaration of Independence, becoming the 3rd President of the United States of America, and founding the University of Virginia.
3. James Madison
"As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights."
Madison is often referred to as the "Father of the Constitution," since he purposed the first twelve amendments of the Constitution. He also served as the 4th President of the United States of America during the War of 1812. Madison battled epilepsy his entire life. In fact, it was health that prevented him from going to William & Mary since there were concerns of malaria. Madison instead went to Princeton and completed the three-year program in just two years.
4. Abraham Lincoln
"Adhere to your purpose and you will soon feel as well as you ever did. On the contrary, if you falter and give up, you will lose the power of keeping any resolution, and will regret it all your life."
It's no secret that the 16th President dealt with depression that was so severe that it caused would cause physical ailments, such as headaches, and incapacitate him. It was also believed that he suffered from Marfan's Syndrome. That didn't stop Lincoln from becoming a lawyer, a member of the House of Representatives, and leading the country during Civil War.
My favorite quote from Abraham Lincoln helps motivate me as well “Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.”
5. Theodore Roosevelt
"Believe you can and you’re halfway there."
Theodore Roosevelt was nearsighted and experienced severe bronchial asthma that stunted his physical growth. However, his childhood illnesses inspired him to live a strenuous life – during a boxing match he detached a retina which resulted in blindness in the eye. He enjoyed nature, was the lieutenant colonel of the Rough Rider Regiment during the Spanish-American War, and was elected the 26th President of the United States.
6. Woodrow Wilson
"The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it."
Woodrow Wilson was not only a poor student, he could barely read by the age of ten. Thanks to his father, who helped him overcome this form of dyslexia by teaching him the art of debate, Wilson went on to study law at the University of Virginia, become president of Princeton University, and eventually 28th President of the United States. Despite suffering a stroke while in office that left him partially paralyzed, Wilson was awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 1919.
7. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
FDR was quoted saying "Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort."
Most of us aware that Franklin D. Roosevelt was partially paralyzed by polio in 1921. However, that didn't stop FDR from becoming the 32nd President in 1932 and leading the country out of the Great Depression and victory in World War II. He's often considered one of the greatest presidents our country has ever had.
8. Dwight D. Eisenhower
"Pessimism never won any battle."
Ike, a five-star general, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, President of Columbia University, and 34th President of the United States from 1953-1960 is believed to have had a learning disability. Most believe that Ike had some form of dyslexia.
9. John F. Kennedy
"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly."
Despite having some form of dyslexia and chronic back pain, JFK attended Harvard and served in the Navy during World War II where he was awarded the Purple Heart and the World War II Victory Medal. Kennedy also served in both the House of Representatives and the Senate before becoming the 35th President of the United States in 1960.
10. Ronald Reagan
"Don’t be afraid to see what you see."
The 40th President of the United States was so nearsighted that he had to sit in the front row of his classrooms. Reagan was also forced to wear a hearing aid during his presidency because it was difficult for him to hear. Despite this, Reagan was United States president, an actor, and the governor of California.
11. William Jefferson Clinton
"We all do better when we work together. Our differences do matter, but our common humanity matters more."
Bill Clinton dealt with a high-frequency hearing deficiency for a long time before getting a hearing aid in 1997. Despite this medical problem, Clinton was the governor of Arkansas and 42nd President of the United States. He could still even play his saxophone.
Assuming your achievements will be limited because of a disability is nothing more than an excuse. In fact, some of the greatest minds in our country had to over come disabilities.