From that point, the decline was sadly rapid. The Yankees announced Gehrig's retirement on June 21 and deemed July 4, 1939 Lou Gehrig Day. It would be Gehrig's final public appearance of note, but his image and his words are burned into the tapestry of baseball history forever. His articulation, a dying man calling himself the "luckiest man on the face of the earth" is still stirring today when one truly realizes how few athletes would show such selfless and self-aware grace in the face of imminent demise. Gehrig inspired with his bravery but also reinforced a moral that is usually riddled with the monotony of benign repetition. But seeing a once strong, virile athlete who performed seemingly inhuman feats upon the diamond, accepting his death and acknowledging his blessings even while confronting the limited span of his life is the manifestation of the moral that on some spiritual or psychological level is, at the very least, healthy for one's character and quality of life and at the most, an axiom of existence.
After his death on June 2, 1941, Lou's wife Eleanor Gehrig — never re-marrying — fought tirelessly in support of ALS research. But 70 years after that historic speech thrust ALS into the national consciousness, the battle is still being waged. As Major League Baseball uses its public profile to bring attention and hopefully funding, to help combat a still incurable disease that killed one of their own, July 4th, 2009 has proved a special day for both baseball and humanity, two entities that rarely see a cross section in the modern day, but never have been more connected than in the life of Henry Louis Gehrig.