Veterans of the War that Saved the World

Tonight was the dinner jointly organized by the UPMC Center for Health Security and Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health in honor of DA Henderson, the founder of our center and a former dean of the school. 

It was an extraordinary event and one that I will remember for a lifetime. Sitting in a room of luminaries of public health including Army generals, two former CDC directors, an undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and countless others would be an extraordinary conglomeration for anyone but DA. 

Scattered amongst the attendees were those that worked on the smallpox eradication campaign, DA's pathbreaking achievement that rid the planet of a murderous virus. Listening to these heroes trade stories from the 1960s and 1970s about how they, under DA's guidance and direction, vanquished this virus from remote corners of the planet -- a feat one of them called more important than the moon landing -- was inspirational. I imagine listening to true war stories of military veterans is a similar experience but I would argue the veterans I heard converse tonight are of a different sort: these were the veterans of the only successful war to save mankind from a virus that had killed with impunity until it met DA and with him as their commander-in-chief they saved the world.