By Najib Aminy
The United States Surgeon General protects America from fundamental germs, radical disease, and foreign viruses. With an army 6,000 strong, the Surgeon General liberates America’s health from the rock-wielding health hazard extremists. Prior to his visit to Stony Brook University, there was much curiosity as to how Acting Surgeon General Rear Admiral Stephen K. Galson was to dress, speak and act. The preceding inquiries were somewhat answered on May 1 during the US Surgeon General’s lecture at the Health Science Center.
The preconceived notion of a general is one who dons a tailored suit decorated with numerous medals and gold stars. On top of that, a general is to have a voice that is commanding and convincing enough to prove that pacifism is for flag burning, blunt smoking, sixties loving pussies. A general is seen as one who answers the red rotary phone with a direct connection to the President of these United States imploring a nuclear strike on all third world middle-eastern countries.
A surgeon, on the other hand, is seen as a doctor who spends countless nights saving people’s lives with the mere tools of a scalpel and clamps. Decked in a white laboratory suit and green scrubs, the insignia of any surgeon is the stethoscope that is worn to confirm the stereotypes of all surgeons. The surgeon is often portrayed in any sad montage at a hospital where either he or she is desperately working hard to save a life.
Combining the two presents a cluster bomb of confusion for Americans, as a surgeon saves lives, whereas a general thrives on the opposite. Created in 1871, originally as the Supervising Surgeon by President Ulysses S. Grant, there have been 24 Surgeons General. Throughout the office’s 137 year history, the US Surgeon General has guarded America with a red, white and blue painted rifle in one hand and a scalpel in the other, a combination which to this day has created curiosity as to what the exact role of Surgeon General is.
After a brief introduction, the US Surgeon General stepped out, and right there stood the man responsible for battling abortion rights, stem cell research, cancer, autism and AIDS. Convincingly enough, the “general” part of the Surgeon General title suited him well, as Rear Admiral Galson sported a suit similar to that worn by officers of the Navy, disappointingly with no stars. Surprisingly, his suit was very clean. There were no bloodstains from the victims he has slaughtered. Their absence kept his column of campaign ribbons clean and pristine.
As the lecture got underway, the audience grew captivated with the Surgeon General’s talk on childhood obesity. Rear Admiral Galson proved to be convincing by presenting humorless videos of kids being lazy-a video, which managed to make the audience laugh and applaud thunderously.
Oddly enough, the Surgeon General bore little resemblance to a surgeon other than the few times he spoke in scientific lingo. Coming in with a briefcase, it is possible that Rear Admiral Galson concealed his surgical kit in his briefcase, which possibly also held the access numbers to the thousands of nuclear warheads pointed at the Middle East. Fortunately, no one in the audience needed medical attention, which kept the Surgeon General from awing the audience with his true talents and skills.
As the lecture came to a close and after the lecture-goers stood in patriotic fervor and applauded graciously, Rear Admiral Galson mingled with members of the audience at the reception. Greeted by a number of doctors, faculty and students, the Rear Admiral took time to listen to everyone and answer each and every question just like a Washington politician listening to his constituents during re-election. When asked about the possibility of writing something different on the warning labels on cigarette cartons, such as “Hi Mom,” Rear Admiral Galson assured that legislation was being passed in Congress regarding the writing on the warning labels. Galson went on to share how he personally wanted stronger warnings to further educate and prevent people from purchasing and using cigarettes.
Prior to Rear Admiral Galson being assigned the prestigious position, Galson was rewarded numerous energy awards, even winning the Energy Gold Award three times. When asked if he saw the movie Deep Impact, Rear Admiral Galson replied, “No.” Deep Impact is a film about a comet impacting Earth, causing possible annihilation, with Morgan Freeman, an African-American, acting as the Commander-In-Chief. After explaining this to the Surgeon General, he said he had no comment about whether or not Barack Obama would be prepared to handle such a situation.
Due to the amount of people bombarding the Surgeon General, questions about his thoughts on shows such as House and Grey’s Anatomy as well as his view of the war in Iraq could not be asked.
Regardless, the US Surgeon General managed to maintain his unclear public image–whether he was more of a surgeon or a general. Rear Admiral Galson said that his job was to go around the country and educate Americans on the health issues as well as be prepared to deal with any health crises that may plague the nation. However, what general in the last 231 years of America’s existence was to teach Americans about diabetes? For generals, the only lesson taught was through their example, as best shown by General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans after the War of 1812 ended. Jackson set the precedent that generals are to leave no prisoners, just as William Tecumseh Sherman left more among the Confederates in the south during the Civil War and the ruthless George S. Patton’s in World War II. Generals are meant to lead the masses to victory and not educate them to boredom.
Surgeons are meant to save lives, just like Dr. Sanjay Gupta or Robert Rey from Dr. 90210. They are not meant to wear Navy suits with decorated medals and ribbons. Surgeons are to be restricted to the halls of any hospital, star in any television drama or remain architects of breast enhancement procedures. Holding a briefcase possibly containing valuable launch codes, rather than a defibrillator creates an unnecessary confusion.
Despite the questionable role the United States Surgeon General may withhold, Rear Admiral Galson, an alumnus of Stony Brook, represents more than just the University and more than just these great states united. Rather he represents the hope that will battle the jihadists of Cancer and liberate the oppressed from the insurgents of disease.