Walter Reed and the Power of Dedication
Walter Reed was still a boy when he decided what he wanted to do with his life. More than anything else, he wanted to become a doctor and help ease the pain and suffering of other people.
Born in Virginia, Walter Reed was the son of a Methodist minister. He grew up during the Civil war. When he was 15 years old, Walter entered the University of Virginia, where his dedication to study was so complete that when he was only 17 he was admitted to university's medical school. In one year he completed his medical studies, passed his examination, and was awarded his medical degree.
At 18 he was the youngest graduate in the school's history.
Dr. Reed practiced in New York City and in the borough of Brooklyn for several years. But he was not happy. He had seen too much suffering and often felt unable to help those who were sick. He was also discouraged because some of his fellow doctors were poorly trained and cared little for their patients.
Then Walter Reed made a decision that changed his life. He joined the Army Medical Corps and became an Army surgeon. His dedication to his patients and to the field of medicine earned him a promotion to captain, and then to major. He was transferred to Baltimore, Maryland, to continue his studies, and then to Washington, D.C., to teach at the Army Medical School.
During the Spanish -American War, American soldiers were sent to fight in Cuba. There they found that their deadliest enemy was not the Spanish army, but a disease called yellow fever.
The soldiers called it yellow jack. Nobody knew where it came from or how it spread from one person to another. For centuries, outbreaks of yellow fever had killed tens of thousands of people. Now it swept across Cuba, again killing thousands.
Major Reed had alerady shown that typhoid fever was spread mainly by the common fly. Measures to get rid of flies greatly reduced the number of new typhoid cases. Now he was asked to find out what caused yellow fever and how it was spread.
He went to work with determination. He traveled to Cuba where he learned everything he could about the epidemic. He became convinced that yellow fever was spread by a certain kind of mosquito, Aedes aegypti, as scientists call it. He believed the mosquito would bite a person suffering from yellow fever and then would infect healthy persons when it bit them. It was a good theory, but Walter Reed needed to prove he was right.
To test this theory, Major Reed wanted to let an infected mosquito bite him. But members of his medical team refused to let him do it. His life could not be risked, they said. After all, it was his experiment. How could they continue if he died?
Dr. James Caroll, a member of Reed's team, volunteered to be bitten by an infected mosquito. A soldier, Private William E. Dean, also volunteered. They fell ill, but both recovered.
Dr. Jesse Lazear, another member of the team, was accidentally bitten by a mosquito and died nine days later. Major Reed was deeply saddened by his death and become even more determined to defeat the yellow fever.
Though Walter Reed knew he was on the right path to controlling yellow fever, he needed to prove beyond doubts that the mosquito, and nothing else, spread the disease. The only way to prove this was to put a group of volunteers where they could not come in contact with the disease in any way,and then let them be bitten by infected mosquitoes.If they fell ill,he would know the mosquitoes were responsible.
A special camp was built to conduct the tests.A number of volunteers were bitten by the mosquitoes ,and soon they fell ill.Dr.Reed worked day and night to make sure the experiment was done correctly.He worried over each patient who became ill,and made sure each was well cared for.They all recovered.
Another group of volunteers, separated from others ,were not bitten by the mosquitoes.Instead,they slept in bedsheets used by yellow fever victims,wore their clothes, and used their towels.But none of them became ill.
Reed now had the evidence he needed .The mosquitoes did carry the disease.The Army began to destroy the mosquitoes and their breeding grounds.Soon there were very few new yellow fever cases.
Through their dedication ,Dr.Walter Reed and his team had defeated one of humanity's deadliest enemies,and had made important new discoveries in the war against disease.
I wish each one of you, Happy holidays! Whenever I have a little time I will add to this page a short story to read about the history of famous people. fm
Jane Addams and the Power of Sharing
Jane ADDAMS WAS BORN only a few months before the Civil War began and just two months before Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States.Her father ,a prosperous businessman and a state senator from Illinois,knew Lincoln well and shared his belief that all people should be free to enjoy the fruits of their own labor.When the Civil War began,John Addams organized a company of soldiers called the ''Addams Guards'' and went off to fight for the Union.
Like many other children , Jane Addams believed her father was the greatest man in the world.
Even as a young girl,she would talk with him about the problems and puzzles ahe found in life
When she was seven years old ,she and her father traveled from their home to Cedarville to visit a mill located in a very poor section of a neighboring town.Jane noticed that the children lived in small,run-down houses packed so closely together there was hardly any place to play.
Jane asked her father why people lived that way,but his explanation did not satisfy her.She told him that when she grew up she would live in a big ,beautiful house but that it would not be located among other big , beautiful houses in the country.It would be right near poor little houses like the ones she saw around her.Then she could share the beauty and comfort of her house with those who were not so rich as she was.
As Jane grew up she never forgot that many people live in hunger,poverty, and sadness. She decided that her life's work would be to help make their lives better.
She went to Philadelphia to study medicine, but her spine problem forced her to leave school and have an operation. It took her a long time to recover. Several years passed while Jane Addams struggled to decide what to do with her life.
One day, while traveling in Europe with her friend Ellen Gates Starr, Jane Addams decided that she did not have to be a doctor to help people. She told Ellen of her idea to live among poor people and share with them the good things life had brought to her. She could help them to learn about art and music., help them learn new skills, and help them with other problems they might have. Ellen liked the idea very much, and the two women started liked the idea very much, and the two women started right away to plan what they would do.
In 1889 Jane and Ellen moved into Hull House, a big old mansion in a very poor section of Chicago. There they started many projects to help the working people of their neighborhood. Soon enough, children and their parents were coming to Hull House for classes, reading groups, games, lectures, and all sorts of enjoyable and useful activities. Whenever any of the people had problems, they would go to Jane Addams. She shared her knowledge, experience, and money uselfishly in order to help them.
Jane Addams began a long campaign to provide better housing and better living conditions for poor people. She worked to get child labor laws passed to protect young people who had to take jobs to help their families. She worked to bring peace to the world. And she wrote many books telling what she and her friends had learned about helping others.
In 1931 Jane Addams was given one of the most important awards in the world, the Nobel Peace Prize. She had brought hope, beauty, and happiness into the lives of everyone around her simply by sharing her life with them.