The death of retired U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop reminds me of his forthright answer to a question I asked him about AIDS.
It was the early 1980s, and the Reagan administration was largely silent as thousands of Americans got sick and died. The President himself did not speak publicly about AIDS until 1985, four years into the epidemic.
But Koop, who was surely as conservative as anyone in the Great Communicator’s White House, recognized early on that the threat to public health was grave, and anti-AIDS campaigns by organizations in the gay community were effective.
Tall, bearded, and bow-tied, the Surgeon General was an imposing figure as he spoke to reporters during a visit to a private school in Cumberland County, NJ.