PSR-LA’s 2004 Annual Gala Dinner was an unparalleled success. Featuring a most inspiring and accomplished set of honorees, nearly 500 people attended the September 7 dinner at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica.

 Producer Lawrence Bender ( Gov. Dean inspired the audience with poignant and often humorous reflections on his rise as a political contender, offering his unique perspective on the challenges facing the country today. He forcefully expressed his regard for Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the role our organization has played.

“PSR has led the way. You have been a group of people that has been far-sighted, thoughtful . . . and courageous in standing up for the things that have to be stood up for,” Dean said. He further urged the crowd to continue discussing difficult issues with people from all political persuasions in an attempt to find commonality and to build community.

 

Good Will Hunting, Kill Bill  presented the Caldicott award to Governor Howard Dean M.D., asserting that Dean would be influential for decades “because as you all here know, it takes a doctor to understand a national depression, to heal open wounds, to comfort the human suffering of a nation.” 

Rabbi Leonard Beerman offered a memorable introduction of PSR-LA’s Peacemaker Award recipients, life-long friends, Wally and Suzy Marks. “Wally and Suzy have never been good at defending themselves against the demands of conscience,” he said. Beerman praised the Marks’ support of grassroots organizations that work to “diminish the score of agony and enlarge the realm of care and reason which are so notably lacking in our times.”

 

With friends and family in attendance, Wally and Suzy’s remarks were both personal as well as political. Suzy graciously thanked many in attendance, including a heartfelt message of gratitude to her husband, Wally. “You have shown me just what a life of dedication, infused with intelligence, and propelled by compassion can look like.”

 

Wally spoke of his support for grassroots organizations in Los Angeles and  his involvement with the Liberty Hill Foundation. He also discussed recent trips he had made to Israel and the West Bank in order to explore possibilities for peace. “What I learned from our travels is that if we want to be peacemakers, we must support the art of communication,” he emphasized

 

Past PSR-LA honoree, Harvey Karp M.D., presented Philip Landrigan M.D. with PSR-LA’s Socially Responsible Medicine award. A national expert on environmental toxins and children’s health, Dr. Landrigan gave a sobering portrait of the need for radical improvements in environmental health policy. Fewer than half of the 3,000 high production chemicals in use today have been tested for human toxicity. Landrigan noted “only recently have environmental contaminants such as lead, mercury, pesticides, and household chemicals have been acknowledged as a children’s health problem.”

 

In addition, Landrigan offered his insights on what it means to be a “socially responsible” physician. He said “physicians need to think beyond the care of the individual patient to the root causes of disease, which are almost never medical. You have to think about economics, social justice, and militarism; you have to think about war if you are going to ultimately be a socially responsible physician.”

 

PSR Founder Helen Caldicott M.D. closed the evening by discussing the urgency of efforts to prevent nuclear war. Stating that “we are all physicians to a planet that is acutely ill,” Caldicott gave a rousing call for dedicated and vigilant efforts to turn the tide of militarism and nuclear dangers.

 

Pianist Nikita Sokolov gave a stirring rendition of Bach and Rachmaninoff. A student of Mary Cummins, the 16-year old Sokolov is the winner of many awards, including the Music Teacher’s Association State competition.

The gala raised money to sustain PSR-LA’s vital activities. We are deeply grateful to our donors and friends for their support.