Another Role Model: Donald Macrae, MC, MD

By | July 7, 2021 | 0 Comments

On Independence Day weekend I expressed my gratitude to three roles models of patriotism: My father Aaron Stolinsky, and Master Sergeants Lee and Tierney. But there is a fourth role model I need to honor. He was a Brit, specifically a Scot, so July Fourth was not the time to mention him. But now I feel free to do so.

In medical school we had several foreign-born professors. Most of our anatomy lectures were given by a Scot from Glasgow. It took us a while to understand his thick Scottish burr. We had another Scot, a neurologist, but his accent was different – more musical, almost Irish. Only years later I learned why.

Dr. Donald Macrae was born on the Isle of Lewis, off the northwest coast of Scotland. Their first language is Gaelic, explaining the similarity to an Irish accent. Another native of the Isle of Lewis, born a few miles from Dr. Macrae, was Mary Ann Macleod, mother of President Trump.

As a young doctor Macrae served in the British Army, in North Africa and Europe. There he earned the Military Cross, their third-highest decoration, most unusual for a medical officer. The citation mentions that he was unfailingly cheerful under fire. The reason for the award was that he went forward into a minefield to treat the wounded. The citation is signed by Generals (later Field Marshals) Alexander and Montgomery.

Had I known all this at the time, I might have spent more time with Dr. Macrae and learned something about patriotism, British version. But like many opportunities, the young either ignore them or do not bother to take advantage of them. Even so, I believe my character was enriched by even brief contact with Donald Macrae, MC, MD.

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