Jonas Salk

by Shervin from San Diego

            "Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality" (Salk). Jonas Salk had a dream of curing polio and other viruses. The polio epidemic that started in 1910 claimed numerous lives all the way through the 1950's. Jonas Salk was born in New York City on October 28th, 1914. Salk had two brothers, a mother named Dora, and a father named Daniel. Jonas always did well in school and was always interested in science and helping people. He graduated high school and went to college and eventually got his master's degree. He took his gift of knowledge and started to work on a cure for polio. To this day, Jonas Salk is remembered as the hero who saved thousands of lives by making the first safe and effective cure for polio. I feel that a person must possess certain qualities or achievements to be considered a hero. Jonas Salk has many of these qualities that made him the hero he was; Salk exceeds the criteria to be considered a hero because of his advancements in the medical field and that he truly stayed humble through his years of fame.

Jonas Salk's advancements in the medical field led him to be the hero he is. In 1955, a famous doctor, Dr. Francis, publicly told the nation on camera that Jonas Salk had developed the first safe virus: "The Salk polio vaccine is safe, effective, and potent" (Reis). Jonas Salk made a huge advancement in the medical field and saved tens of thousands of lives by making the first real cure to the horrible polio virus. This is one of the many heroic acts of Jonas Salk, because he started a trend and led more and more people to keep working on polio and other viruses.  Thomas Francis announced at the University of Michigan in front of many government officials, scientists, and physicians, that Jonas Salk found the first cure to polio: "He declared that the vaccine was 100 percent effective against type 2 and 92 percent effective against type 3 polio" (Sherrow). Jonas Salk made the first safe cure for the polio virus but he also had a 100 percent rate on curing polio in patients with the type 2 virus. Salk is a hero to society, because when he found the cure to polio he didn't stop, he instantly started working on cures for influenza, aids, and other viruses. This shows that Jonas Salk is a hero for finding the first safe cure to polio, and he never stopped trying to improve society.

Throughout all of Jonas Salk's fame and success he remained humble. During the time Salk was getting all of his awards, he had an interview with Edward Murrow about all of his newly received fame: "When Murrow asked him who owned the patent to the polio vaccine, Salk replied, 'Well, the people I guess, There is no patent. Could you patent the sun'" (Sherrow). Salk did all of his work for the people and not for the fame and money. He could have made a lot of money but he stayed humble and chose to make no profit out of something that was worth a lot. Jonas Salk began to become a household name because of his hard work in the medical field, but he never let that get to him and his work was always his first priority: "'I suddenly found myself being treated like a public figure, a hero. I was no longer able to use my time altogether at my own discretion.'"(Sherrow). Jonas Salk became a celebrity. He got fan mail, phone calls, and some people even sent him gifts. He always donated these to NFIP, because he thought that others deserved these luxuries as much as he did, and he recognized them for helping him throughout his career.  Salk worked to help better society not for all of these gifts and the celebrity status that it came with. This is very humble of him because his sole purpose was to help people. Being humble is a heroic trait that Jonas Salk had throughout all of his fame.

Jonas Salk is a hero to me and should be to everyone else in the world. He made one of the biggest cures in history that saved many lives, but chose to stay humble, and not take any reward by patenting his virus. "'News of the success of Jonas's polio vaccine was celebrated around the world. People from coast to coast in the united states publicly expressed their gratitude to Jonas" (Reis). Jonas Salk was a true hero to all of the United States. He saved many lives and the whole nation was celebrating his excellence. Many looked up to him at the time, and many still should. He is a great inspiration to me because of all his great accomplishments was to help improve society, not himself. He didn't cure polio in the hope of making money, he wanted to help people. Salk inspires me to one day be the humble man he was.

Works Consulted

Carlson, Elof Axel, and Carlson Elof Axel. "Jonas Salk." Great Lives From History: The Twentieth Century (2008): 1. Biography Reference Center. Web. 9 May 2013

Davidson, Keay. "Jonas Edward Salk." American National Biography (2010): 1. Biography Reference Center. Web. 9 May 2013.

"Jonas Salk." Jonas Salk (Biography Today) (2010): 1. Biography Reference Center. Web. 9 May 2013.

Reis, Ronald A. Jonas Salk Microbiologist. New York: Infobase, 2006. Print.

Salinger, J.D. "World Biography." Jonas Salk Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2013.

Sherrow, Victoria. Jonas Salk Beyond the Microscope. New York: Infobase, 2008. Print.

Page created on 5/20/2013 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 5/20/2013 12:00:00 AM

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Related Links

Academy of Achievement - Shows Salk's achievements
Old Bridge Admin - Quick biography of Salk's life
PBS - Talks about Salk's vaccine