Fifty years ago Dr. Jonas Salk launched a mass vaccination of one
million kids from age 6-9 to prove the effectiveness of his
life-saving polio vaccine. Even though it worked, he was
denied the Nobel Peace Prize and entrance into the National Academy of
Sciences. He was shunned by his peers and suffered
the Terrorism of Jealousy. How is Dr. Salk linked to
President George Bush? How are we, Citizens of Vigilance,
linked to Dr. Salk when we face tough decisions that may make us
unpopular with our friends or peers? How do we know when
not to cripple ourselves with Terror.
Monday, February 23,
2004—Ground Zero Plus 894
Crippling The Disease Of Terrorism
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Feb 23, 2004 -- One scanning the
headlines of the world might come to believe that Terrorism will never
be defeated. No matter what is done, the bombing and
killing continues in as many places as there are names, for the same
History is our
guidepost to prove we are battling Complacency and the Beast of
But, that would suggest Complacency. Accepting that
belief, we would all give up and let the tanks roll over us.
why history is our guidepost, our Sentinel of Vigilance, when we get
blinded by today's oppressive Terror news.
Take this date, February 23, 1954. To many, it's
just a date in time, with no particular meaning unless you were born
or married on that date, or happen to be attached to through some
For people who wonder if Terrorism can ever be defeated, it is one of
many important dates to remember. It was the date
that Dr. Jonas Salk announced the cure for polio.
Dr. Jonas Salk
fought Infantile Paralysis and his critics
Fifty years ago, infantile paralysis was considered a plague.
The disease crippled the young, casting them in wheelchairs or forcing
them to wear braces and walk with crutches. In 1952,
during one of worst peaks of the disease, it afflicted 57,628 of the
most innocent victims--the children.
In 1954, Dr. Salk and his team conducted a national field study and
inoculated more than a million children ages six to nine.
Half received the polio vaccine, half a placebo.
A year later, the evidence clearly showed the impact of the vaccine.
Over the next few years polio declined to less than a dozen cases a
year as vaccinations against it protected the children. In
1969, not a single death was reported from polio, the first time in
When we think of heroes, Sentinels of Vigilance who deserve to be
saluted for their battles against great odds, we need to look at guys
like Jonas Salk. His battle with Terrorism began after he
won public acclaim for being the first to "find a cure" for polio.
Historically, there were a lot of others working on the problem.
Dr. Salk was in a hurry to find a cure. He took all the data
available and accelerated solutions, including injecting his children
with the vaccine during the testing period to see how "safe" it was.
He developed a way of delivering the vaccine that was different from
the norm others were working on. Instead of using "live"
viruses, he used "dead" ones. As a result, he was able to be the
"first" to battle the Polio Beast. While his vaccine may
not have been the best, it worked. Millions of children were
spared the disease while other researchers completed their works to
refine and make more efficient the vaccine.
Salk's rivals denied him the Nobel Prize and entrance to the
National Academy of Sciences of the United States
Salk's rivals ensued as Salk's fame grew. The scientists
who had worked their entire lives on coming up with a solution turned
their backs of Dr. Salk. He was refused entrance to the
National Academy of Sciences of the United States, and denied the
In 1970 he married the French
painter and former mistress of Picasso, Françoise Gilot.
He did garner many accolades, including the Albert Lasker Award, the
Robert Koch Medal, the Mellon Institute Award and a Congressional Gold
It may not
seem to many that Dr. Salk was the victim of Terrorism.
That may be true unless you consider being shunned by your peers a
form of Terrorism. What if when you walked into a room of
peers, they all turned their backs on you and pretended you didn't
they barred you from their exclusive club as punishment for your
What if they lobbied against you to the Nobel Prize Committee,
insuring you were erased from the "short list?"
a funny group
Scientists are a funny group. They aren't in the business
for money, but, if fame is a factor, that certainly is a driving
force. In science, fame is usually reserved for
those who get results. Theory is one thing, but
application is another.
Dr. Salk kicked sand in the face of the Beast of Terror by rushing to
the market to help young children fight off the Beast of Polio Terror.
The "live" virus the scientific community believed was better didn't
get approved until 1961. Many who were vaccinated between
1955 and 1961 by Salk's "dead" virus thank him for being there first.
In a way, the battle with Terrorism in Iraq and the world is similar
to the Dr. Salk legacy.
In March, when America
attacked Saddam Hussein, the internal Congressional and Senate support
was overwhelming. Everyone was behind the
elimination of "evil."
Now, the "group" has turned their backs. The "team"
working to solve the problem has divided and split. The
goal of removing "Terrorism" has shifted to "who gets the most glory
for the act?" and, "if I can't get the glory then I'll smear you're
glory with muck."
Sometimes an act of Courage, Conviction and Right Action results in
bitter backbiting by those who are jealous of the spotlight given to
In the crossfire, we forget the real goal. In Dr.
Salk's case, it was to free the children from the threats of the Beast
of Polio Terror. At 25,000 cases per year, his
vaccine stopped a potential of 125,000 cases before the second vaccine
was approved in 1961.
inoculated the citizens of Iraq from tyranny
In Iraq, 25 million citizens were released by the rule of a tyrannical
leader. Half of those citizens are under the age of 15.
And while there are current acts of Terrorism going on in Iraq, they
are not the edicts of a single hand of oppression that smothers the
freedom of citizens.
Freedom has inoculated the citizens of Iraq from tyranny.
They will have the right to fight for it when America leaves.
But, if one listens to the news, and cocks an ear toward the political
rhetoric, the acts of President Bush have been in violation of a cure
Those same accusations were hurled at Jonas Salk by his critics five
decades ago. What good he achieved was clouded by those
within his "political" circle because they "wanted" the glory and
resented Dr. Salk for getting it.
I think inoculating the world with Freedom in the face of the Polio of
Terrorism is a brave and courageous act, one that invites cheap
entered the 2004 presidential campaign race to challenge what he
called the "two-party duopoly."
Take Ralph Nader. He entered the Presidential race a few
days ago to a barrage of critics who call him an opportunist, just as
they called Dr. Salk. Democrats are concerned Nader will
siphon off critical votes that could turn a tight election one way or
another. In the last campaign, Nader's 11,000 votes
in Florida were deemed as the reason Al Gore lost by 537.
The point is, that sometimes we face Terrorism for the acts we do
after we have done them. Standing up for one's
principles, or the principles of others may be the easy part.
Suffering the backlash of that stance may be the real challenge.
I wonder if we all were to think through our lives and examine the
decisions we have not made because we were concerned about "what
others thought" how regretful we might be that we didn't act.
"It's not my business," is no answer.
If Jonas Salk had surrendered to the science community's pressure to
wait for the "live virus" a tenth of a million young children may have
been crippled for life.
acted to fight the Beast of Terror
If President Bush waited for the U.N. to sanction U.S. intervention,
we might all be still sitting on the edge of war, watching all the
Terrorists beat their chests and rattle their swords knowing we were
as gutless as the committees we asked for permission.
And, who's to say that Ralph Nader may in some way help the undecided
decide who should lead our nation. Maybe the best
person for the job isn't the one that gets the most votes, but the one
the voters voted for decided there was someone even better.
Sentinels of Vigilance take different forms. Some of them are
bruised and marred by history's rocks slung at them.
If we look past the critics, we usually see the truth.
It's honoring that truth that's hard, because it forces us to decide
how willing we are to stand up for what is right.
If we are vaccinated with the Principles of Vigilance, we know that
the overriding reason to act, regardless of the consequences, is that
what we are doing is the right thing for the Children's Children's
Children. When we are sure that is our real purpose, we
can never be wrong, no matter who claims we are.
Feb 22--Bob's Battle With The Beast Of Lung