THE 1918 PANDEMIC

Oren Blaine (2)He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. Psalm 91:4-6

 

My father was just nine years old when his brother Oren Blaine was drafted into the Army in 1918. Oren looked so proud in his picture, and he was excited to serve his country in the World War. But his destination of Camp Funston training camp was believed to be where the Influenza Pandemic began. Overcrowding, a brutal winter, poor sanitation and inadequate medical care created a ripe situation for an epidemic outbreak. On March 4, 1918, a cook at the camp was the first to succumb to the powerful virus. Within three weeks, 1100 soldiers including Oren Blaine fell ill. The family never saw Oren alive again; he died at Camp Funston. From Kansas, infected soldiers were sent to camps around our nation and then to Europe and beyond, exposing countless others already exhausted from war to the flu. An estimated 50 million soldiers died of influenza world-wide, more than all the casualties of the war.

 

“The 1918–1919 influenza pandemic killed more people than any other outbreak of disease in human history. The lowest estimate of the death toll is 21 million, while recent scholarship estimates from 50 to 100 million dead. World population was then only 28% what is today, and most deaths occurred in a sixteen-week period, from mid-September to mid-December of 1918.” (National Institutes of Health) The disease mutated constantly, making it impossible to develop a vaccine. The world-wide hostilities were later called “The War To End All Wars.” And many thought a pandemic that big would never happen again.

 

Here we are again. Why would God “allow” this type of pandemic to hit the globe a second time in a hundred years? Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Our Lord is faithful to keep us calm in the face of any disaster.

 

Jesus, only You can dispel my unhealthy fears and replace them with trust, hope and courage. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of three books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child; Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of New Mexico and has over thirty years’ experience working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, war veterans, and other trauma survivors.  Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

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