Hubert H. Humphrey
Both Muriel and Hubert Humphrey were dedicated and committed to assuring quality services for individuals with developmental disabilities, and the financial investments that needed to be made.
Hubert H. Humphrey: ... you may know, there is what we call the President's Committee on Mental Retardation. Mrs. Humphrey serves on that committee by appointment. We have a very special interest in this whole subject of mental retardation. Our first granddaughter was born retarded, yet she is a beautiful child, and we have seen what can be done with love – and it takes lots of love – and care and with specialized training.
We're more fortunate than some people. We are able to send our Vicky off to a private school that has good facilities and good teachers. But many people can't do that, they can't afford that. I've seen what can happen when you get good training. Many of the retarded are trainable to become self-sufficient or, that is, earning people, to become productive people.
I want to quickly say to you that you will never in your life ever make an investment that is more worthy and more worthwhile. The love that comes back from a mentally retarded child is God's true love. It really and truly is. I get more joy out of my…our little Vicky than almost any experience that I've ever had or any child I've ever known.
Speaking, going back to your subject again, this is very close to my heart. If you can care for a child at home, that's the best place. But there are many that you can't; therefore, they need institutional care.
John: How can we help them with more money and...?
Hubert H. Humphrey: Well, the federal government is putting up a sizeable sum of money now, but not nearly enough, and state legislatures have simply got to remember that every child is entitled to all the protection and care that you can give that child. Now we go ahead and give ordinary children, that is, normal children, a reasonably good education. But the subnormal child, the mentally disturbed, the mentally retarded child is also entitled to care, also entitled to all the education that that child can absorb. He can't maybe absorb as much as somebody else, but he's entitled to all that he can get.
And in our school systems, we must have specialized facilities and special teachers for the mentally disturbed and the mentally retarded child. They're different, the disturbed and the chi… and the mentally retarded. Then we must be willing to invest in these institutions to make them not prisons, not a place to shove somebody away and forget them. But, rather, a home of love and affection and attention and training.
It can be done, it requires some money, but a rich society like ours can do it. Now, we've started in the federal government. We've pur… For the first time, in the last three years, we have a federal program of assistance for mental retardation facilities and training. Those programs are working. That program is working. We're helping... I've forgotten now the number, better than a hundred schools in this. But much more can be done.
John: On specifics, the Vice President told me of his great pleasure on visiting the school attended by his granddaughter Vicky. I again pointed out the very different conditions Bill Baldini found at the Pennhurst School for the Mentally Retarded. This was his reaction.
Hubert H. Humphrey: Institutions are sometimes pitiful, just pitiful, disgraceful, and we just can't tolerate that, John. It's not right. We just can't look ourselves in the mirror when you know what goes on in some of these institutions. I don't know about your particular problem here, but let me tell you, if it's not good, then it's shameful, because this rich country, this great country – and I must say it is very great and very rich – can afford to take care of the least of these.