WASHINGTON -- Dr. Albert Sabin, the famed Russian immigrant who helped conquer polio 30 years ago, has received the Soviet Union's highest civilian medal of honor.
Soviet Ambassador Yuri Dubynin presented the award Wednesday to Sabin, who promptly called for renewed trust and peace between the United States and the Soviets to avoid 'a war that cannot be won' and that would be the 'greatest crime against humanity.'
'Whether it (peace) will happen while I'm still alive, I don't know,' said the 80-year-old crusader. 'I hope so.'
Dubynin awarded Sabin the medal of the Order of Friendship Among Peoples, described by an embassy spokesman as the Soviets' highest civilian honor.
'Dr. Sabin fought his battles against polio in close and fruitful cooperation with prominent Soviet scientists,' Dubynin said. 'This cooperation still continues successfully.
'The work and experience of this wise man represent a shining example of how to construct and develop better Soviet-American relations.'
Sabin said it was the Soviets' efforts in vaccinating millions of children in six months in 1959 that demonstrated 'to the world how mass vaccination could eliminate a crippling disease on all mankind.' His polio vaccine, introduced in the United States in 1960, is credited with saving more than 5 million people worldwide from the deadly disease.
Sabin immigrated to the United States from Russia 66 years ago and has received awards from around the world. He was given the highest U.S. civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, last spring at the White House.