Guest Post: Grand Aunt Hilda and the Influenza Pandemic of 1918

The Stofferahn family history is a wake-up call. U.S. leadership needs to act fast to avoid another 1918.

A family’s history points to the danger
of today’s coronavirus pandemic.

by Curt Stofferahn

I’ve been thinking of Grand Aunt Hilda this past week.

Graphic for Guest PostsThe discovery of hot spots of coronavirus (COVID-19); the announcements of meeting, convention and tournament postponements; colleges and universities cancelling face-to-face instruction in favor of online instruction and postponing reconvening until two weeks after the end of spring breaks; and repeated reminders of the Trump administration’s miserable failure in dealing with the outbreak – they all reminded me of the Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and how my Grand Aunt Hilda was a victim.

Influenza Pandemic of 1918, Iowa & South Dakota

I learned about Grand Aunt Hilda when we were children visiting my grandparents. When we discovered a trunk in the storeroom with portraits of relatives in it, I asked Grandma about one in particular, a charcoal portrait of a lovely young woman who looked vaguely familiar. She went with us to the storeroom to look at the portrait, and with some melancholia said that it was my grandfather’s sister, Hilda, who had died in the pandemic.

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