Charles Everett Koop

by Hanna from San Diego


Charles Everett Koop once said, "You may hate the sin, but love the sinner" (qtd. In Newsmakers). Sometimes, it can be easy to hate what sin the person undertakes, but it is hard to hate the person for what they've done. C. Everett Koop was a surgeon general who believed that everyone should be aware of the health issues and he took up the task to help the weak. He became a strong campaigner for the nation's health as he served for America and the people by being surgeon general in 1982 through 1989. Although many people sometimes didn't agree with him and his beliefs, he presumed on, saying that he cannot deliver a health message to only what everyone approves on. Koop, the United States Surgeon General, was a caring and persistent person who worked hard to change the views of smoking and AIDS for the benefit of a healthier America.


Koop was persistent, no matter what others would say, because he was full of determination to make America a well fit place to live in. An issue that came up in the 1980's was about AIDS. Charles Everett Koop sought out to find out solutions to prevent this from happening: "Conservative members of Reagan's team even asked him to take the word condom out of the report, but Koop refused. In addition, he called for the compassionate treatment of AIDS victims. He urged doctors not to refuse to treat AIDS patients, reminding them of the Hippocratic Oath" (Koop 2). Tenacious to help the AIDS patients, Koop pushes other doctors to give them medical treatment instead of refusing. Also, when Koop was writing an AIDS report about ways to prevent it, part of Reagan's team requested him to take off a part they found excessive. Still, Koop believed it was necessary information to counteract AIDS, so he declined and dismissed the appeal from Reagan's team. He found smoking and AIDS to be the most important issues of the time and beseeched others to take a part: "Koop took on the American tobacco industry...when he called for a smoke-free society by 2000. Koop also pushed then-president Ronald Reagan to address the AIDS crisis publicly" (Encyclopedia 2). Koop being confident and certain of making the world healthier challenged the tobacco industries and wanted a smoke free nation by 2000. He also persisted to help the patients with AIDS and pressured President Reagan to assist him by addressing the problems on AIDS to the public. Koop wanted there to be less smoking and AIDS patients, so he persisted for ways to prevent it, such as having supporters like President Reagan to assist him. Overall, Koop was resolute to help prevent AIDS from occurring and treating the patients. He also was tenacious to spread the word about dangers of tobacco to nonsmokers and smokers.


C. Everett Koop, a person with a caring heart and mind, wanted for America to become a beneficial place full of healthy and vigorous people. The issues he mainly believed he should take a stand against to care for the people are smoking and AIDS: "Dr. Koop issued emphatic warnings about the dangers of smoking, and he almost single-handedly pushed the government into taking a more aggressive stand against AIDS...When Dr. Koop took office, 33 percent of Americans smoked; when he left, the percentage had dropped to 26" (Noble 1). Concerned for the people, as Koop took office, he tried to make a difference in everyone's attitude toward smoking and AIDS. Informing others about the hazards of smoking that affects smokers and nonsmokers, Koop tried to apprise the people of the ways to prevent AIDS from happening more often. He strived to make Americans to become more assertive towards AIDS and smoking. Not only did he take a stand against those ordeals, but he also stood against people who could not fight for themselves: "He championed the rights of infants with birth defect to receive medical treatment and the rights of persons with disabilities to have access to public facilities and to employment" (Papers 4). Altruistic to not only the smokers and AIDS patients, Koop successfully supported infants with birth defects and disabled people by obtaining their rights that they cannot acquire on their own. This shows how Koop is not only sympathetic to just some people with specific types of diseases. Knowing that the infants with birth defects and disabled people are still human like everyone else, he considers their life and is merciful while helping them. Charitable and compassionate to everyone, Koop does not only spread the word of dangers and medical treatments, but also helps everyone by fighting for their cases that are reasonable and right.


To become a surgeon and who he has become, Koop was hardworking and committed. Ever since Koop was a young child, becoming a surgeon was his main objective, therefore he was devoted to become one: "In order to develop the manual dexterity required of a surgeon, Koop used each hand interchangeably to tie knots or to cut out pictures from magazines...In the basement of his home...Koop performed operations on rabbits, rats, and stray cats, losing by his account, not a single patient" (Papers 4). By performing these activities at a young age, it prepared Koop to become a surgeon. Practicing and practicing until the real thing, he was able to advance his skill of a surgeon with such simple things such as tying knots. Also, since he could not operate on people yet, he still wanted to perform and practice his skills of surgery. He then found other ways such as operating on animals. Even after becoming a surgeon, he still kept his vibrant, passionate attitude towards being a surgeon: "A workaholic, Koop over the years developed migraine headaches, which he cured by more work, and a peptic ulcer, which he treated himself" (Newsmakers 3). Working vigorously and fervently, Koop started to get headaches, and unlike those who would rest because of the migraines, Koop worked even harder. Eventually it cured his migraine headaches. Additionally, even though he had a peptic ulcer, he treated it himself, showing his industrious side of being able to do activities such as that on his own. Ultimately, Koop was diligent to become a surgeon and even when he became one, he kept that mindset and reached the position of being surgeon general.

C. Everett Koop was a softhearted person who would be selfless to help others around him, no matter if they needed medical treatment or not. He was a hardworking person and whenever he believed whole-heartedly in something, Koop was always persistent in helping others. Not only did he make a change through being unrelenting to AIDS and smoking, but he was also motivated to save people's lives. He was caring and thoughtful to others and ways he can help them, either medically or non-medically. Also, Koop tried his best and was dedicated. Koop, being a determined person, preserved to give his best to help others. Koop is an inspiration because he helps the nation in many ways and tries to guide America to become a healthier country. With all his characteristics, he takes a part in changing the society and its point of view on things like smoking and AIDS. Additionally, Koop does not use his own job as a use to spread his belief and force others to think the same, but instead he is the opposite: An editorial in The New York Times said in 1989, "The skeptics and cynics, this page included, were wrong to fear that Surgeon General C. Everett Koop would use his office only as a pulpit for his anti-abortion views" (qtd. in Noble). Although Koop may have hated the sins people commit such as gay marriage or abortion, he still felt love and compassion for them and wouldn't hold their sins against them.  


Works Cited

"C. Everett Koop." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Vol. 18. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Student

Resources in Context. Web. 9 Dec. 2013.

"C. Everett Koop." Newsmakers. Detroit: Gale, 1989. Biography in Context. Web. 9 Dec. 2013.

"The C. Everett Koop Papers." Profiles in Science National Library of Medicine. U.S. National

Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 8 Dec. 2013. 


"Koop: The Memoirs of America's Family Doctor." American Decades Primary Sources. Ed.

Cynthia Rose. Vol. 9: 1980-1989. Detroit: Gale, 2004. 506-510.Biography in Context.

Web. 9 Dec. 2013.

Noble, Holcomb B. "C. Everett Koop, Forceful U.S. Surgeon General, Dies at 96." New York

Times 26 Feb. 2013: A26(L). Biography in Context. Web. 9 Dec. 2013.



Page created on 1/9/2014 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 1/9/2014 12:00:00 AM

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Related Links

National Library of Medicine - This website has the whole life of C. Everett Koop and much more inside of what he did and why he did what he did.
Surgeon General - This website tells who he is and how he became who he is today.
AIDS - This website is a memoriam for C. Everett Koop after he died and shows mainly how he made an impact against AIDS.