March, 1950 Seventy years ago, when I was three and half years old, my dad was stationed in the West Indies, just north of Venezuela. That is where I was stricken with polio. There were no facilities for care where we were. Pan American Airways had a fleet of former C-46 military aircraft it was using for cargo flights in the Caribbean. The company re-routed an empty plane to transport me to Miami at no cost. Pan American was a corporation that was run by men who cared about people, as many did at that time.
This was a special time in this country's history. Americans had pulled together to win World War II just a few years earlier. And in similar spirit, Americans in communities all across the country organized fundraising drives for the March of Dimes, an organization that had been founded by President Roosevelt for the care of polio victims.
An organization of theatre owners known as the Variety Club built a special hospital in Miami for Polio kids. The newspaper photo at left shows me being transported there on the day it opened. Thanks to that organization and another community-sponsored hospital in New Jersey, and to the March of Dimes, I received a year of therapy that my dad could never have afforded. I still needed to walk on crutches after that year, but I was able to go on to enjoy a fulfilling life. After a few years I didn't need the crutches, and now I get by with a cane. My life would have been very different without the goodness of the American people.
What is American Tribute Online?
America is the country that pulled together after World War II to take care of me. It is difficult to express how that makes me feel. My feelings of gratitude and patriotism are personal and profound. America is the most amazing country in human history. And though our history has numerous dark chapters, we are, by and large, a very good and generous people. Now, at the age of 73, I am saddened by the division that separates us along lines of political party and hot-button issues, when we are all still Americans. There are so many things about this country and about our history that we can all celebrate together. The American past isn't perfect, and it hasn't always been equally good for everyone, but we embarked on a path in 1776 to build a new kind of nation. In my view, we need to continue to work together to build that nation.
So what is American Tribute Online? Not a business and not a non-profit organization, but rather a personal project to remind people of the America we can all be proud of. The American Tribute web sites are not commercial and do not have any advertisers, except that they are supported by my business, Ocean Color, a design and display graphics studio, and by a web site with wonderful vintage American patriotic posters and illustration.
This site is part of the American Tribute Online project. It is not a commercial site, and it is not associated with any museum or other organization. The purpose of the project is to celebrate our American heritage and provide an online resource for showcasing the America that we can all be proud of. There is no paid advertising or listing on this site