“If I could share one piece of advice with all of those struggling with a stutter, it would be this: When you commit yourself to a goal and when you persevere in the face of struggle, you will discover new strengths and skills to help you overcome not only this challenge, but future life challenges as well. I promise you-you have nothing to be ashamed of, and you have every reason to be proud.” ~Joe Biden
Even though I don’t agree with Vice President Biden’s political stance, his story about overcoming stuttering is truly inspiring. It is very sad if we can’t appreciate someone’s story, just because of who he happens to be. He is a real person with a real story. Please, even if you don’t agree with him, take time to read his story. I promise that it will touch your heart.
Joe Biden was born in 1942 in the town of Scranton, Pennsylvania. At the age of 29, after graduating from Syracuse Law School, he became one of the youngest people ever to hold office in the US Senate (1). However, Biden’s path to success was marked by many difficulties along the way that shaped much of who he is today.
From childhood into his early twenties, Biden suffered with stuttering. In an essay for People Magazine, Biden revealed that he acquired the cruel nickname “Joe Impedimenta” in his prep school and recalled feeling “so desperate, so embarrassed ” (2). To help relieve his stutter, he would often stand in front of his mirror and recite poetry. Like many stutterers, speaking rhythmically seemed to alleviate his stutter (1).
Eventually, he learned to accept his stutter as a gift from God, because he believed it gave him more sympathy for others and ultimately made him a stronger person (1). The support a stutterer receives at home makes all the difference in the world, and Biden was certainly no exception. At the 25th anniversary gala for the Lab School of Washington, he said, “Time and time again, my parents taught me that being different is no barrier to success. And the measure of a man isn’t how often he is knocked down but how quickly he gets up”(3).
Today, Vice President Biden remains very actively involved in raising stuttering awareness. He has spoken at several galas for the AIS (American Institute for Stuttering) and has offered riveting words of encouragement to stutterers everywhere.
If I could use one word to describe Biden in relation to his stuttering journey, it would be overcomer. He didn’t let his stutter keep him from living a full life. As Vice President, one of his main duties is communication. As a stutterer myself, thinking about how much he overcame to be where he is today just blows my mind. Regardless of your opinion of Vice President Biden, please don’t disregard his story. His story is important, because it reminds us that nothing has to keep us from chasing our dreams, even if that dream is being the Vice President of the United States.
(1) The Stuttering Foundation. “Joe Biden.”
http://www.stutteringhelp.org/content/joe-biden (accessed Sept. 18, 2016).
(2) People Magazine. “Joe Biden Opens Up About Childhood Stuttering Problem.” http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20472194,00.html (accessed Sept. 18, 2016).
(3) National Association of Independent Schools. “Joe Biden Reveals Childhood Stuttering at Lab School Gala.”
http://www.nais.org/MagazinesNewsletters/ISMagazine/Pages/Joe-Biden-reveals-childhood-stuttering-at-Lab-School-gala.aspx (accessed Sept. 18, 2016).