Iam Dr. Daniel E. Gremillion and I am a retired physician. I was born in Ferriday, LA, lived in Monroe, Shreveport, Houma, Thibodaux, and finally in New Orleans where I attended LSU medical school there. Much of my training was in big Charity Hospital next door to the medical school on Tulane Ave. in New Orleans.
I have been somewhat of a student of the history of Louisiana since its founding in the early 1700s. I think it is relatively unknown to many how severe poverty was in the early 1920s in Louisiana and the lack of basic services that were available to all of its citizens, e.g. schools, roads, bridges, hospitals, health care. The output of natural resources at that time was plentiful but the economic models were stacked in favor of big oil and industry and a fair balance of money entering the state coffers was lacking. Enter Huey P. Long. Say what you will about his motives, clothes, speaking manner, roots, whatever, this man changed it all for Louisiana in favor of the Louisiana citizen.
One can still literally see and experience the results. I have driven on so many roads, crossed so many bridges that Mr. long was instrumental in creating. I am probably alive today because of the modernity of those structures. I attended LSU medical school and studied at Charity Hospital and know that he was so instrumental in creating those entities. The education I received at that time was of the best one could buy. Mr. Long began seriously improving LSU in Baton Rouge in 1928, including its sports and football program and we all know how important all of that is today for the students, alumni, and citizens.
The LSU med school in New Orleans opened in 1935 and was one of the most influencial med schools in the nation in many areas. It was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina but is coming back to greatness. The Charity Hospital in New Orleans was begun in 1732 and by 1860 operated 1000 beds for the needy. With Mr. Long's leadership it was operating 3000 beds by 1939. I am witness to the superbness of that hospital and the teaching programs run by LSU and Tulane medical schools there. Charity Hospital, aka, "the big free", is closed now but will live again. Its sister operations still thrive in Shreveport.
Gov. and Sen. Long was responsible for so many great things that happened to Louisiana when he was in office. It is remarkable he accomplished so much. He was a genius. Did he have flaws? Yes. We all do. But, in my opinion, the criticism he received in the waning years of his life and career was over the top and generated by the wealthy and powerful that feared him. He was not a socialist, nor a fascist as some portray him to be. What he accomplished was within the bounds of a state and federal democracy. When his opponents could not defeat him at the polls or on the floor of the state capitol or the Senate in D.C. they verbally maligned him and finally killed him.
What would he have been and where would he have gone on a state and national level we will never know. One thing we do know, is Louisiana is a much better, more educated, healthier state that it could have ever been without the KINGFISH. The schools, students, hospitals, health care, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, the capitol building, roads, bridges are all the better or exist because of him.
When you watch the DVD biography of Huey P. Long by Ken Burns, keep in mind who the people are who are criticizing Mr. Long and examine their motives, from those residing in Louisiana to FDR. Watch this DVD, think for yourself, look around you, study Louisiana history, and decide for yourself. Louisiana folks should always revere the great Huey P. Long.”— Dr. Dan Gremillion, Nashville, TN (native of Ferriday, LA)