On Serving All Humanity in Disease Prevention and Medical Advancement

Courtesy of the University of Alabama, http://acumen.lib.ua.edu/u0003_0000581_0002917.

Courtesy of the University of Alabama, which now continues the work of the Gorgas Memorial Institute, http://acumen.lib.ua.edu/u0003_0000581_0002917.

Unable to meet with President Coolidge on October 2, 1923 as scheduled, Dr. Franklin Martin of the Gorgas Memorial Institute of Tropical and Preventive Medicine, left a simple request in his absence: would Coolidge accept the honorary Presidency of the Institute? The President, long appreciative of the strenuous endeavors by William C. Gorgas and his team in eradicating Yellow Fever and Malaria that had so long afflicted the people of tropical and semi-tropical regions, enthusiastically accepted and here writes one of the most expressive acceptance letters he ever wrote, commending a cause that meant a great deal to him. The work continued by the Institute in honor of the late Mr. Gorgas not only practiced the law of service but had accomplished immeasurable good for all people in the continued eradication of preventable diseases. To Coolidge, there was no virtue in allowing “the jungle” to consume a standard of living America had proven possible that in previous generations had been unknown even to monarchs. Neither progress nor justice resided in bringing standards back down for all alike. It meant keeping that standard increasingly as high as possible so that more instead of less can have a fuller life to give to those who do not have it now, at least on this side of eternity. Surrendering that fight to the elements would not only squander the great achievements of men like Gorgas and Dr. Martin but would endanger people all over the globe, plunging the world back into the dark reign of preventable disease and unnecessary loss. By accepting this honorary role, Coolidge was not assuming this work under government management but supporting the innovation and dedication of millions of individuals, empowered by freedom, to better the world through selfless service.

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