Have you ever had a new idea?  And then done absolutely nothing about it because you were sure it couldn’t really be a new idea at all?  I know I suffer from this particular form of madness!

But I was truly inspired last weekend by the ideas of someone who was not hesitant to put them into practice.  On our continuing weekend investigations of Civil War sites, we returned again to Sharpsburg, MD and the Pry House Medical Museum.  Somehow we had managed to entirely miss this most amazing site on previous trips to the area.  This is the site of one of the Army’s first organized battlefield hospitals.  It was dreamed up, set up, organized, stationed and run by the new ideas of Dr. Jonathan Letterman.  To this day he is considered the father of modern emergency medicine.  His ideas and the actions it took to carry them out resulted in an organized ambulance corps, the idea of triage, and an organized staged evacuation and treatment system that became the norm for hospitals throughout the Army and the country.  Somehow, he knew his new ideas would be beneficial to wounded soldiers and he didn’t hesitate to put his ideas into practice.  They are ideas that continue to influence medicine today.

When I realized this was where Letterman got his start as Medical Director of the Federal Army of the Potomac, I also knew that Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco was named for him and his work in Army field hospitals.  His ideas were embraced, put into practice, and survive to this day as effective measures during battles and emergencies.

So, the next time we think that our ideas can’t possibly be important, or will never affect anyone else, or are not worthy of further consideration – think of Dr. Jonathan Letterman and the grace that he left as a legacy of his ideas, his compassion, and his care for others.  Our ideas – if we develop them and act on them – could have a similar effect.

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