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LENS ON LEADING: NOTES FROM ANTONY

Fireworks and Celebrations

Honestly, July was a busy month. I’m almost always up for road-tripping, though admittedly it was a bit of a challenge with two dogs, including a new puppy, when we drove to Memphis and back. For people who are used to living on an island across the pond, the wonders of this country never cease to amaze.

Right at the beginning of the month, of course, was the Fourth of July, and we’ve been in America enough years now to appreciate many of the traditions that come with the holiday. We don’t hold any grudges about that bit of a rebellion back in the 1770s. After all, we didn’t know that fellow King George personally.

But once the party is over for the birthday of America, I move on to celebrating another birthday—the birth of the National Health Service in England. As midnight turned in 1948 to July 5 in England, suddenly there was health care for everyone.

Aneurin Bevan was the youngest member of the Labour government elected two years earlier. In the space of two years, and moving against considerable opposition from the Conservative party, others in the government, the press, and members of the medical profession, Bevan nevertheless led the way toward the National Health Service. The idea was not Bevan’s brainchild alone. Ever since WWI, the country had been ripe for the possibility of collective action to solve the health care dilemma. But Bevan did speed up the time table and accomplish the task even as many said it could not be done.

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