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Reader Choices For Bigshot Of The Century

A number of you have sent us your nominees for the Man Of The Century. We're
using that term because it's used pretty liberally right now, but obviously
greatness is not limited to men. Here's some responses so far:


Jonas Salk

John H. dissents from the FDR camp:

Einstein, not FDR.
FDR blew it at Yalta! and we all question who was in charge near the
end.....Franklin or Ellenor? [sic]

Einstein...maybe some scientist might have figured it out (the
bomb), but he was OUR scientist, not Russia's and therefore he changed the

My choice for the NEXT man of the Century will be Grant
Hill...the first afro-american president of the United States.

Jason Evans:

Dunno what criteria one would use for "Man of the Century" --
shouldn't you change it to "Person of the Century" anyway ;) -- and
whether you include "bad guys" along with "good guys", but
if you are to include everyone, I think there is a very, very strong case to be
made for Joseph Stalin. He changed the balance of power in World War II. Face
it, no way the allies win without the second front in Russia... and Hitler would
have waltzed where ever he wanted to go if Russia had sided with Germany.
Additionally, his policies shaped the Soviet Union for more than 60 years, well
after his death. You can make a fairly convincing argument that he started the
Cold War as well. So, that means that he played a key role, perhaps THE key role
in the dominant event of the first half of the century (WW II) and the dominant
event of the second half of the century (Cold War), at least as far as the
entire planet is concerned.

Of course, one could make very similar arguments about FDR when it comes to
determining the outcome of WW II and shaping America for generations after his

And then again, if we stretch our thinking beyond the scope of wars and
politics, it is hard to not come up with some scientist-type as the "Person
of the Century." I mean, the impact of computers on our entire planet is
kinda hard to ignore. If Alexander Graham Bell or Thomas Edison had done their
work in this century, they'd be easy choices, but they are too old. That leads
us to 20th century scientists like Alfred Einstein. There is lots of talk that
he will be Time Magazine's choice for Person of the Century. One might be able
to make an argument for Jonas Salk. I read once that his invention of the polio
vaccine had changed more lives than any other single scientific discovery in
history... pretty darn impressive. We forget, but prior to Salk's discovery,
Polio was crippling or killing tens of thousands of children in the U.S. every
year. That is really scary to think about. When news leaked that Salk and his
team were going to announce a vaccine, the media rush was stunning. Wanna
picture something amazing, listen to this description of the scene when Salk's
report on the vaccine was first released at the University of Michigan:

"Finally the reports arrived -- under armed guards, one a captain of the
Ann Arbor police department. The releases were in boxes on a hand truck. To
avoid a crush, public relations men from the University began throwing the
releases to the crowd. But still hands grabbed at the boxes. In the next few
seconds toes were trampled on, ribs were elbowed and pandemonium prevailed. Then
there was a dash for the couple of dozen typewriters in the press room and for a
battery of telephones."

Before I go, one last nominee... how about Edward R. Murrow. The man all-but
dragged the U.S. into World War Two with his breathless live descriptions of the
Blitzkreig on London. Then, he changed America forever by giving credibility to
a new medium which was only slowly catching on called TV. Up until Murrow went
on TV, everyone got their news from radio and newspapers and never really
considered any alternative. Finally, Murrow risked everything to bring America
the truth about Joseph McCarthy and the Red Scare. His reports on the McCarthy
hearings on "See It Now" instantly changed American opinions on what
Washington was doing and may have helped forever reverse the course of a
government that was getting disturbingly Fascist. The watchdog nature of the
media today, making sure that our leaders do not get too greedy and pointing a
spotlight on injustice where ever it occurs in the world, is a direct offshoot
of Murrow. Plus, my dad knew him and I am named after him ;)

My list for the Century:

1. Edward R. Murrow
2. FDR
3. Jonas Salk
4. Stalin
5. Someone related to computers, I hate to say Gates, but it might be him.

Eric Rotshchild:

Man of the Century -- Winston Churchill
Men of the Millenium -- Galileo/Newton -- the scientific
principles they introduced, and, even more importantly, the scientific
method, have created our modern world.

Ted & Velma Bush

If Franklin Roosevelt were alive today I am sure he would insist on Sir
Winston Churchill being so anointed. End of discussion.

James was kind enough to hunt down the Churchill passage we couldn't
remember, and sends it on. We highly recommend Churchill's six volume
account of the great conflict.

Incidentally, with reference to the recent comments on Peanuts, we'd like to
say that we have the greatest appreciation for Charles Schultz for never, ever
forgetting Memorial Day. We'll miss that greatly about Peanuts. Now,
without further ado, the key excerpt of one of the great speeches in the
history of the English tongue.

"Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have
fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of
Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old."

Hitler never had a chance.