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It made an arresting tableau: four former surgeons general, aged 68 to 85, all in their blue admirals’ uniforms, together on stage like four grizzled Civil War veterans rehashing their biggest battles, and how they were treated afterward by the President and Congress.

But this was no re-enactment of Bull Run or Shiloh. It was an after-action report on America’s medical wars, and it took place this month on the stage of the New York Academy of Medicine.

“In this current climate of incivility, I think it’s important that medical students see models of integrity, compassion, camaraderie and wit,” said Dr. Judith A. Salerno, the academy’s president, who invited Dr. Antonia C. Novello, Dr. M. Joycelyn Elders, Dr. David Satcher and Dr. Richard Carmona to speak.

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