Anyone who’s ever heard me talk knows that I’m from “down there.” Where is “down there”? It’s anywhere south of “up there” and southeast of “over there.” “Out there” is the “gulf.”I live down there with Joe Bob and Bubba Gump. Jimmy Buffet and James Carville are from down there. The AAOS Annual Meeting has been down there many times, and some of the best orthopaedic surgeons are from down there.


Published 11/1/2010

America’s Gulf

This isn’t about orthopaedics, per se—so I hope I don’t get fired—but sometimes we need to talk about things other than orthopaedics. Sometimes we need to talk about being patient, doing the right thing, and being thankful.

S. Terry Canale, MD

“Up there” has the business heroes, the Fords, the DuPonts, the Mellons. “Down there” we have just one big business hero. You’ve probably heard of him—his name was Carrier, as in air conditioners.

Outside it is 97°F, but I’m writing this in a room with a temperature of 68°F thanks to Mr. Carrier. Although he was from New York, Mr. Carrier is our hero because he helped popularize and populate “down there”—without air conditioning we couldn’t live down there, and it sure makes performing surgery in July a lot easier.

So far, you’ve been pretty patient, but you’re probably beginning to wonder what the point is of this editorial. It’s about the gulf down there. We’ve just about reached the end of hurricane season, making it through this year without a major catastrophe. But that oil leak (and if you ask me, nearly 100,000,000 gallons of oil is a bit more than a leak!) was hard to live with. Now that the flow has stopped, the well is capped, and the clean-up is well underway, we’re all thankful that most of the gulf has survived.

But getting to this point wasn’t easy. At first, it didn’t seem like anyone was prepared to do the right thing. But the American public kept the pressure on, even as 2 months became 3 and then 4 months. Old news? No way! The American public demanded to know what was happening and demanded a resolution. It became not the Gulf of Mexico, but the Gulf of America. Suddenly, it was America’s gulf down there!

I’m thankful to CNN, Fox News, other TV news channels, the print media, and even the likes of Anderson Cooper, James Carville, and Jimmy Buffet—they kept this story front and center. They reported what was happening to the ecology, the wild life, and the environment—from bathing and cleaning oil-soaked pelicans, marshes, and beaches to focusing on small business owners, shrimpers, and tourism.

For a change, partisanship took a back seat to doing the right thing. The public and politicians kept the pressure on the government and BP, demanding that the president and vice-president visit down there. I’m convinced there is nothing America can’t do when we are united in one cause. United, we sent men to the moon. I’ll bet we could even solve the immigration problem (to say nothing of the healthcare dilemma, the tort reform crises, or the budget deficit) if we stood united and put aside our partisan passions, as we did in the fight to save America’s Gulf.

Save it America did, and now the sun shines on the emerald water and sugar-white sand, and someone’s shouting, “The coast is clear!”

Jimmy Buffet said it all in his “Bama Breeze” song: “You are one of our own down there. You can drink some beer down there, Argue, laugh, and cheer down there. Pass another year down there. Good God, I feel at home down there.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, us folks “down there” have a lot to be thankful for. Thank you, Americans, for saving the Gulf of America for all of us!