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Congressman Robert Ehrlich and Dr. Jernigan

Congressional Record, Wednesday, October 21, 1998

Extensions of Remarks Section

Tribute by Hon. Robert Ehrlich, Jr., Republican of Maryland

Honoring the Memory of Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, President Emeritus
of the National Federation of the Blind [page E-2268, 43 lines]
in the House of Representatives

Tuesday, October 20, 1998

MR. EHRLICH: Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay my respects to Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, who passed away on Monday, October 12, 1998, after a courageous fight with cancer. I offer my warmest sympathies to his family, friends, and the National Federation of the Blind, the organization for which he served as one of its principal leaders for more than forty-five years.

I have greatly admired and respected Kenneth Jernigan and the National Federation of the Blind since my days in the Maryland State Legislature as a state delegate. With chapters in every state and almost every community, the Federation is the nation's oldest and largest organization of blind persons. Its influence today serves as a reminder of the culmination of Kenneth Jernigan's lifetime work and commitment to improving the quality of life for the blind throughout this nation and the world.

Occasionally, an issue is brought to my attention where I can seek a meaningful legislative remedy for a substantial number of people. Four years ago, with the assistance of Dr. Jernigan and the Federation, I began to work with my colleagues in the House to reestablish the Social Security earnings-test link between senior citizens and the blind. Dr. Jernigan emphasized to me how the de-linkage of this historic tie would have a negative impact to the self-esteem of blind workers, preventing them from pursuing better employment opportunities. In his memory, I pledge to continue pushing for bipartisan legislation to restore this important incentive.

Dr. Jernigan will be greatly missed. His selfless accomplishments on behalf of the blind and the sighted are immeasurable. Because of his example, many of us will do the right thing by furthering his good work. It has been a great honor to have worked with such an influential and highly respected leader.

In conclusion, I would respectfully enter into the Record one of Dr. Jernigan's favorite sonnets, "Remember" by Christina Rossetti. [There followed the text of the poem, which appears elsewhere in this issue.]