A COVID-19 vaccine is rumbling down the highways of America, and will soon be distributed globally. One of several. A vaccine made by the American pharmaceutical industry with the assistance of the American government, funded by American taxpayers, and distributed by, among others, the American military using the American interstate system. Driving American trucks by American truckers.
It’s time to shout from the mountaintop that America is still exceptional.
It may seem obviously old fashioned and nostalgic to hold onto such antiquated thinking.
But it’s true. How else would we be so close to a vaccine roughly 10 months into a pandemic?
Take a moment and appreciate that.
Most vaccines are the product of decades, if not centuries, of work and study.
In the summer of 2020, many said a vaccine was years away. America did it in 10 months.
It wasn't by magic, it was because American scientists, doctors, and researchers worked tirelessly to save millions of lives.
This latest achievment represents the latest scientific milestone by Americans helping to end not only a serious disease, but a global calamity.
Who else of note was working on the vaccine? Not the communist Chinese. Only the Americans.
Our country wouldn’t exist without such ingenuity, but not everybody believes in American Exceptionalism. Liberals like Joe Biden seem to despise American Exceptionalism: they call it "xenophobic' and "problematic."
Conservatives like Donald Trump not only believe in American Exceptionalism, they make it self-evident by our successes, even while snarky liberals mock it.
They have for years.
During the early days of the American Revolution, George Washington faced an enemy that couldn’t be defeated in outright combat, namely smallpox. First introduced to the Americas by colonization, smallpox was a constant threat to Washington’s army in the first stage of the war. Washington himself knew firsthand the danger of smallpox, having contracted it on a trip to Barbados in 1751.
Yet, Washington was initially against mass inoculation. He feared it would lead to an outbreak among his troops. However, during the Siege of Boston in 1775, an outbreak occurred among both the soldiers and the city’s civilian population that continued well into 1776. This, coupled with a similar outbreak among the Continental forces attacking Quebec, convinced Washington that mass inoculation was needed.
In February 1777, Washington ordered all troops to undergo inoculation.
It was a long, crude procedure that had to be done in complete secrecy, for if the British knew they would be able to attack with impunity. Miraculously though, the first round of vaccinations worked without the British learning anything. The following year, during the unrelenting winter encampment at Valley Forge, Washington ordered a second round of inoculations that, against all odds, succeeded.
Finally, at least in regard to smallpox immunity, Washington’s army stood on equal ground with the British. Washington’s plan for mass immunization, the first of its kind in American history, helped pave the way for the Continentals’ ultimate victory and our nation’s independence.
American ingenuity against disease continued to flourish in the early modern era.
In fact, it helped save one of the greatest triumphs of American engineering.
During the construction of the Panama Canal, the specter of Yellow Fever was a thorn in the side of U.S. workers and officials charged with completing the project. The Panama Canal Zone was a hotbed for the disease, but at that point there was little understanding of how the Fever was transmitted.
Walter Reed, a U.S. military physician based in Cuba, formed a commission that built upon previous research that ultimately proved Yellow Fever was transmitted by mosquitos.
Reed’s work debunked a longstanding theory that the disease was spread via clothing.
After Reed’s work, Major William C. Gorgas, who was chief sanitary officer in Havana, Cuba instituted strict control methods that successfully destroyed Yellow Fever breeding sites in Cuba.
As a result, Gorgas was appointed sanitary officer for the Panama Canal Zone, and he used his methods to break the disease that had been the bane of the project up to that point.
Through a combination of mosquito netting, draining swamps, building public water systems, and carefully inspecting homes, Gorgas helped ensure that Yellow Fever no longer impeded the construction of the Panama Canal, which was completed in 1914.
By far one of the greatest triumphs of American science was the development of one of the first successful polio vaccine in the mid-20th century.
American virologist Jonas Salk believed, contrary to the prevailing scientific opinion of the day, that using a vaccine composed of a "dead virus" would be an effective way to develop antibodies.
Salk would kill different virus strains in his laboratory, then inject those killed viruses into the bloodstream of a patient.
This would theoretically allow a person to develop the necessary resistance to create an immunity to polio.
Salk was brave enough to test this method on himself and his family during the initial human trials, and in 1953 he announced the vaccine was ready for clinical trials.
Salk began mass testing that involved nearly 2 million children.
Salk’s vaccine was licensed in 1955, and these days there are hardly any cases of polio reported in the United States, thanks in no small part to Salk’s work.
It’s astounding to think that just over a half a century ago polio was one of the most feared diseases on the planet.
We are a great nation for a myriad of reasons, but undoubtedly one of America’s greatest contributions to mankind has been our achievements in researching how to negate disease and illness. When the COVID vaccine does become available, it will be because of American men and women who have sacrificed and worked relentlessly to develop a viable way to rid us of a disease that has ground our country to a standstill.
Never forget that our country’s bread and butter is inspirited ingenuity because of the conditions created by our Founders.
The conservative culture of America --- the free exchange of ideas and industry --- have made America first in so many things. Just recently, the Red Chinese landed an unmanned probe on the Moon.
America did it over 50 years ago.
Aside from our Constitution, ingenuity, and exceptionalism are the cornerstones of American life. Let that be a constant, unending reminder to us, our allies, and our foes.
Craig Shirley is a Ronald Reagan biographer and presidential historian. His books include ''Reagan’s Revolution, The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started it All,'' ''Rendezvous with Destiny, Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America,'' "Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years," and ''Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan." He is also the author of The New York Times bestseller, ''December 1941,'' and his new 2019 book, ''Mary Ball Washington,'' a definitive biography of George Washington’s mother. Shirley lectures frequently at the Reagan Library and the Reagan Ranch. He has been named the First Reagan Scholar at Eureka College, Ronald Reagan’s alma mater, and will teach a class this fall at the University of Virginia on Reagan. He appears regularly on Newsmax TV, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. Read Craig Shirley's Reports — More Here.
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