The adult part of my journey through this life began at Princeton. There was nothing special about it. I attended classes, wrote papers and -- most importantly -- learned how to think critically, ask the right questions, and put my thoughts in writing. What happened immediately after Princeton was all too typical for the time. I traveled in the States and in Europe, married, had children, and divorced as scheduled. The crises of the time, such as the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban missile crisis, seem tame by today's standards. My days and years were taken up with taking care of hundreds of patients, with many of whom I developed close relationships. As a part-time oncologist I learned to lose friends frequently to horrible disease that we could do little for.
A major change occurred in 1990 when, after 24 years of practice, I was given the opportunity to become a physician executive, a Medical Director. I was sent to schools and received on-the-job training in order to learn the business side of medicine. This part of medicine fascinated me as much as clinical practice, and moreover I did not lose friends at a rapid rate.
Now in my seventies, with chronic, ultimately fatal illness, I have had a chance to look back and forward. What I see is horrific. Over the last six years the United States, the only country I know well, and one that I have respected for its strengths and moral values, has fallen on very hard times. All of this is due to one man and his cronies: yes, it is George W! I cry for the wasted lives in a foreign war that was unnecessary. I see "checks and balances" government becoming a "Unitary Presidency," all because one party dominates all three branches of government. How could we let this happen? I see religious beliefs dominating reason and controlling the affairs of those of us who have retained our reasoning capacity. I cannot comprehend how the high moral tone of George W's cronies fits with our total lack of morals on the battlefield and in the treatment both of prisoners and of helpless civilians. The continued favoring of the "haves" over the "have nots" by this administration can only lead to predictable conflicts and disaster for our democracy. Nothing I did at Princeton could prepare me for what has happened to our country. I cannot believe that some of my fellow Princetonians have contibuted to this disaster, all in the name of fighting terror. What a way to end the life of a Princetonian!
Paul Reich '57