My Year as an 8th Grader
By Ameya Vaidya
Unsung Hero: Johnathan Letterman
Johnathan Letterman was born in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania on December 11, 1824. He graduated from Jefferson Medical College in 1849 and was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. After he graduated, he assumed the rank of assistant surgeon in the Army Medical Department. Then, he was ordered to Fort Defiance in New Mexico to aid the campaign against the Apache. From 1860 to 1861, he was engaged in California against the Ures. Then came the Civil War. At the start of the Civil War, he was assigned to the Army of the Potomac. In June of 1862, William Hammond, the surgeon general of the army, appointed him as the medical director of the Army of the Potomac. Before he was appointed, the Medical Corps was an uncoordinated and poorly-supplied organization. He immediately started reorganizing the Medical Service with a charter to do whatever was necessary to improve the system.
Johnathan Letterman started by establishing mobile field hospitals to be located at the division and corps headquarters. He then instituted a triage system with prioritized treatment based on the degree of the injury and the likelihood of survival. This was a three-stage process that involved treating soldiers after evacuation, with a field dressing station next to the battlefield to quickly dress wounds and to stop the bleeding. But, Johnathan Letterman's first major contribution was the creation of a robust and independent Ambulance Corps. Each regiment/battery was assigned their own ambulances, which were to be staffed by stretcher-bearers and drivers. This ambulance system linked all the different aspects of the system.
Johnathan Letterman's new and improved medical system proved it's worth in the many bloody battles that came forth in the Civil War. For example, at the Battle of Antietam, there were more than 23,000 casualties with 12,000 of them being union soldiers. It was recorded as the bloodiest day in American history and the largest battle of the war to date. But under Letterman's command, medical personnel were able to remove all wounded Union troops from the field within 24 hours, saving thousands of lives. Another place where Letterman's medical system proved to be effective was at the Battle of Fredricksburg. He separated medical supplies from the regular army quartermaster and reduced waste by changing the distribution of medical supplies at the regimental level in order to solve the supply problem he had in the Battle of Antietam. At the Battle of Fredericksburg, the new and improved medical corps performed with great satisfaction. After the Battle of Fredricksburg, his system was adopted by the Army of the Potomac and other Union armies and was eventually established as the Procedure for Intake and treatment of battlefield casualties for all of the US Armies by an Act of Congress.
Towards the end of the war, Letterman served as an Inspector for Hospitals in the US Army. After he resigned in December of 1864, he moved to San Francisco where he was elected coroner. But after his wife died, Letterman became very depressed and eventually died of intestinal disease on May 15, 1872 at the age of 47. Today, the army hospital in the Presidio was named Letterman Army Hospital in his honor. His work during the civil war has remained fundamental to the modern Army Medical Corps and the handling of casualties on and off the battlefield. Letterman's ideas have also been central to civilian emergency medical, disaster relief, and emergency management around the world.
Works Cited: Johnathan Letterman
"Dr. Jonathan Letterman." Civil War Med. The National Museum of Civil War Medicine, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2016. <http://www.civilwarmed.org/letterman-award/letterman-father-of-battlefield-medicine/>
"Jonathan Letterman Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2016. <http://www.biography.com/people/jonathan-letterman>.
"Jonathan Letterman." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Letterman>.
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A Letter to the Editor
While I have thoroughly enjoyed my year as an eight grader, I think that some things in our school are bound for improvement. First of all, I would like to talk about lunch. The lunch lines in our school are unbearable because it takes what feels like half an hour just to get your lunch from the lunch line. In order to secure a good place in line you have to arrive in the first 2 minutes of lunch, which is nearly impossible for those who are coming from the other wings of the school. The line is also very crowded which makes it easy for people to cut the line without other people noticing. This happens often, and most of the lunch ladies are not able to identify who is cutting in line. I believe that to fix this problem, we should enforce stricter rules for the lunch line and we could also try to add an extra lunch line so the others won't be as crowded. Another thing we could do is set up a separate lunch line only for people who want snacks and/or drinks. This problem should be addressed within due time to make sure that the mess in the lunch room does not continue.