The U.S. Military and the Influenza Pandemic of 1918–1919
Then, in the fourth dreadful year of the war, as the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) assumed fighting strength and prepared their first great offensive against the Germans, the flu struck. By the War Department’s most conservative count, influenza sickened 26% of the Army—more than one million men—and killed almost 30,000 before they even got to France. On both sides of the Atlantic, the Army lost a staggering 8,743,102 days to influenza among enlisted men in 1918. The Navy recorded 5,027 deaths and more than 106,000 hospital admissions for influenza and pneumonia out of 600,000 men, but given the large number of mild cases that were never recorded, Braisted put the sickness rate closer to 40%.
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One of the best courses I took at Cal State, way back when, was 17th century poetry and prose. John Donne, Andrew Marvel, George Herbert and other metaphysical poets were tough nuts to crack, but the effort was more than worthwhile. Sometimes it took many readings of a poem to “get it”, but once that happened it was like listening to a Beethoven or Mozart symphony until the real music comes through.
Makes me think of TS Eliot, and the post on “The Wasteland” a while back. I’ve read Eliot many times, and enjoy his work, but (except for “Journey of the Magi”) I’ve never really achieved that AHA! moment when the music came through for me.