OCTOBER 31, 1959
NEW YORK—Last week I went to a most interesting meeting of the American Public Health Association. I was there for the evening when the Lasker Awards were given. Commissioner Leona Baumgartner of the New York City Department of Health presided, and two of the people recognized for their outstanding work in the health field were Senator Lister Hill of Alabama and Congressman John E. Fogarty of Rhode Island.
The record of these two men is outstandingly good, and in a country where so little has been done by government for research and medicine in general it is encouraging to see recognition given to two of the principal people in the Congress who have really worked over a period of years.
Senator Hill's "Health For Peace" bill will come up again in January when the Congress meets, and I hope very much that it will be passed without delay.
Cooperating with other nations in various ways to improve the health of the world is one of the best ways in which we can work for peace. There is very little conflict between doctors and scientists when they are working together to increase the health of people anywhere in the world and, as Dr. Baumgartner said, "germs have never been isolationists." Germs cross boundaries with extraordinary ease, and something that affects the health of the people in India may very shortly have a bad effect on the people of the United States.
Other awards were given to men of science and medicine and the evening was outstandingly successful.
A special tribute was paid by the Public Health Association and her other friends to Mrs. Albert Lasker. It has been her persistence and intelligent work that has stimulated much of the government's interest, and Mary Lasker well deserved the tributes paid to her.
When work is done in the spirit in which she does her work, there is no way of really repaying anyone except by carrying forward their work and hoping that greater and greater success will come to their efforts.
A very interesting little ceremony took place on October 9 at the office of the Consulate General of France in New York City. On this occasion Eugene Jacques Bullard, the grandson of an American slave, was made Chevalier of the Legion of Honor of France.
Mr. Bullard's father came from the island of Martinique. His mother was a Creek Indian. She died when Eugene was six years old, and shortly after that he began a life of adventure for a boy who from the age of eight seems to have looked after himself completely.
He made his way to France because his father had told him that Negroes were treated as equals there. In World War I he enlisted in the Foreign Legion and then transferred to the 170th Infantry, and he was later the first Negro aviator. He was a member of the French underground during World War II and the Germans seized all of the property he had been able to build up since arriving in France.
After the war he came to America and became an elevator operator at the RCA Building in New York City. His medals are too long to list here, but they culminated in the ceremony of October 9. I think we in America should be proud of this man who now lives in our country after his long service to the French and the France he loved.