Each year I produce a holiday message of hope and renewal.
This year our reason to rejoice is the creation of a vaccine that will conquer the Corona virus. This is the best Holiday gift we could have dreamed. The scientists deserve our applause and gratitude, and that goes to the caretakers as well, but this recent achievement brings me back to a heart-warming story that took place years ago.
The Steve Allen Variety Show was a late-night TV show and was the forerunner of shows like Johnny Carson, David Letterman and Jay Leno. Allen was a high intellect performer in the field of comedy and other talents.
The Polio virus was running rampant in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It was a dreaded crippling disease that was the cause of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s health affliction. Polio attacked the muscular system and often resulted in the afflicted person needing an “iron lung”. The iron lung was a totally encompassing device that covered the entire body with only the head exposed. The rhythm of the air pressure inside the device replaced the function of the diaphragm and allowed the patient to process oxygen. Other victims of the disease lost the use of limbs and some just died.
Polio was finally brought to a halt through the efforts of Dr. Jonas Salk, who created a vaccine that was very effective. There were subsequent vaccines that also were effective. These vaccines brought the epidemic to a close
Years later Mr. Allen was asked to be the featured speaker at a dinner to honor Dr. Jonas Salk. While at home and getting dressed the night of the dinner. Allen’s teenaged daughter asked her father what was the occasion? Mr. Allen said with some pride in his voice “I will be honoring the accomplishments of Dr. Jonas Salk.”
“Who is Jonas Salk?”
“Dr. Salk created the Polio vaccine.”
Allen was stunned that she did not know what polio was. He thought about that for a moment and promptly discarded his prepared speech. When he got up to speak that evening, he told of the story of that discussion with his daughter. He told the audience the greatest tribute to this remarkable doctor was that a person her age had no idea what polio was. The best tribute to Dr. Salk is that our children never have to think about it. It is gone forever.
I hope this adds a little cheer to these Holidays
Merry Christmas-Happy Chanukah