Sunday, July 17, 2011

Our Heroic Dead—From Influenza, 1919

On April 6, 1919, the Medical Society of the State of North Carolina honored doctors who had been killed in World War I or died while treating North Carolina patients during the flu pandemic. The flu was more deadly than the war. Seven North Carolina physicians died in WW I. Seventeen were killed by influenza during the pandemic in 1918 and early 1919.
Our Heroic Dead—From Influenza
By Dr. William M. Jones, Greensboro
We are gathered here tonight in memorial assemblage, to do honor to the memory of those our colleagues who have, during the past year, sacrificed their all upon the altars of God, Country, and Fellowman.
From plans of the present and future we turn our thoughts backward with sighs and regrets, for those who have been our friends and companions.
It is beyond the power of man to adequately express, even in part, that which has taken place since last we gather here. Never before, never since time was, has a year so pregnant with momentous results passed across the dial of time.
War, Pestilence and Famine, the three arch enemies of man, have been running rampant upon the earth.
To those who donned the uniform of our country and went forth to war, all honor is due—their deeds are on record. And as for those who sacrificed all, another more able than I has spoken….
I also speak tonight for those who went forward and led—our friends and colleagues—who paid the supreme sacrifice in answering duty’s call, fighting war’s principal ally, Pestilence….
They fought single-handed and alone, in daytime and nighttime; in rain and fair weather they carried on, when they knew that the limits of human endeavor had been reached, when they knew there were no reserves upon whom they could call for aid and assistance. They fought, sick and well, and at times when they knew that they were fighting a losing fight, for with bodies weakened by almost superhuman efforts, and with no armor adequate to protect them from the darts of the enemy that were almost ubiquitous, they fought on and on and on; when they knew that there was a greater probability of losing their lives than saving others. According to the words of our Lord, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
We shall see their faces and hear their voices no more in our gatherings….
And as we recall the memory of our departed friends and companions, let us give thanks to Almighty God for their beneficent example, striving always to emulate their untiring fidelity to duty, their indomitable courage, their illustrious virtues, thereby the better preparing ourselves for the day when we, like they, shall fall like autumn leaves to enrich our mother earth.
From Transactions: Medical Society of the State of North Carolina, 1919, published by the Medical Society of the State of N.C. and online at

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