Here’s Dr. Koop, discussing the AIDS crisis. Koop, who was one of the most high-profile Surgeon Generals in U.S. history, died Monday at 96. Koop, as he mentions above, was known for his role in informing the public during the AIDS crisis. ”I stepped into a job that nobody gave me. I became, more or less by circumstance and pressure, the government spokesperson for AIDS,” he says in the clip above. The Reagan-era appointee took an extremely public role during the era, warning the public of the dangers of smoking and other issues. His stances—including his decision to not call for a reversal of Roe v. Wade despite his personal stance against abortion—infuriated conservatives but won supporters among liberals. No matter your opinions of him politically (he didn’t care, he was just doing his job), he was nonetheless the trusted face of public health in 1980s America.
Sad. He was the first Surgeon General I remember. RIP.