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Today Also Marks the 75th Anniversary of This Heartbreaking Speech…

Not only is July 4, 2014, the 238th anniversary of the United States, but it also marks the 75th anniversary of an iconic (and heartbreaking) American sports moment.

On July 4, 1939, legendary Yankees first basemen Lou Gehrig stood before a sold-out crowd at Yankee Stadium to address the news that he had been stricken with a rare disease (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and would be saying farewell to the game he loved and the fans who adored him.

The words “Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth” echo throughout the sports world to this day, possibly living as one of the most famous utterances in American cultural history.

Full text below:

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 the earth. I have been in ballparks for 17 years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I’m lucky.

When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift – that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies – that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter – that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body – it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed – that’s the finest I know.

So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for. Thank you.

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