World War I and Remembrance Day during a global flu pandemic

Almost 100 years after World War I – a bloody war bookended by a deadly global flu – the world is once again plagued by another invisible enemy.

But this time, there is no War to End All Wars being played out in the middle of a global pandemic.

It doesn’t mean this isn’t a deadly time, given how integrated the world of 2020 has become. People aren’t hoping from country-to-country and city-to-city as much these days, but it’s impossible to shut down the world, and without a cure, it’s impossible to completely stop the transmission of COVID-19. The best that can be done right now is to slow the spread, which is a stop-gap measure, and an unsettling, temporary solution.

Fortunately in 2020 there are no guns exploding day and night, there is no countryside pock-marked by fox holes and barbed wire, there are no clouds of deadly gas shredding lungs, and there are no boatloads of dead and injured young people coming home.

The Spanish Flu did arise just as the Great War was ending, but there was significant overlap as millions of soldiers, nurses, officers and others moved around the globe and spread the virus.

The thought of having to conclude a World War and fight a fatal virus at the same time, is unfathomable, especially given the technological limitations of that time, the lack of medical knowledge as compared to today and the lack of public awareness until almost a year after the flu first hit.

The fact that mankind was staggered, but not undone by that flu should serve as comfort, especially for those now making life or death decisions, those on the frontlines who are keeping others safe and healthy, those conducting tests and relaying information, those trying to find the vaccine for this virus, and the millions who support their efforts.

Over the last two editions, The Reporter talked about Remembrance Day in this new normal. The November 4 edition detailed how this year’s celebrations will be much different at local branches of the Royal Canadian Legion.

We also feature last summer’s ceremony in Port Hawkesbury commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, which closely observed public health protocols.

In this edition, The Reporter details the sinking of a hospital ship, which claimed the lives of doctors and nurses serving in the Canadian Forces during World War I, including a physician from Port Hawkesbury.

There is no more relevant time to chronicle the undying devotion, tireless service, and outright bravery of the military doctors and nurses who risked their lives to save others.

Hopefully these stories will inform and inspire readers during this trying time, while above all, paying tribute to those who sacrificed so much.

These articles are proof that the world can and will get through this pandemic by working hard, showing courage, and looking out for one another.