Fall 1918 saw war end, but killing continued

The Durango Evening Herald and the whole community cheered the end of the war. Durangoans had patriotically done their duty, “enjoying” meatless and wheatless days, and cheered as the Allied armies pushed the Germans steadily back in the spring and summer of 1918. “Good housewives of Durango can be a great assistance in the movement if they too treat their families to meatless and wheatless days once each week. No starvation diet, that.”

When word reached Durango on July 26 that “the Allied armies were making a great drive crumpling the entire German line,” it caused “so great enthusiasm people just simply had to celebrate.” Enthusiastically they started a parade. “The parade, for one thing, demonstrated that the people of Durango are Americans through and through and their enthusiasm is as great as the endurance and driving power of the boys ‘over there’.” (Durango Weekly Democratic July 26, 1918)

Durango Evening Herald Nov. 11, 1918 ARMISTICE ACCEPTED

Germans Officially Accept Drastic Terms Made By Allies Washington, D.C. Nov. 11 a.m.

Germany signed the armistice at 11 a.m. Monday, Paris time

Hostilities cease at 11 a.m. announced by Washington

Terms of armistice will be released from Washington today

Armistice terms are announced “The Greatest Day in History”

However, despite the celebration something stalked the land:

HELP STOP THE FLU

THE COUNCIL OF Defense of La Plata County, working to aid the Red Cross, and under the advice of the health office, asks every citizen to read this statement and to join to in helping to check the influenza epidemic and in helping those suffering from influenza epidemic. The number of lives lost from the disease is likely to take more than the World War is likely to take from the same community.

At the same time, do not expose yourself, nor be afraid to do your part. Remember that the fight against the extension of this epidemic is preeminently a matter of individual case, caution and service. If you or your family take the disease, or even may be taking it do not run any chance of exposing others to it. A little carelessness on your part may cost someone’s life.

Remember that your mild case can convey to the next person a serious case.

There proved to be no stopping the flu. The epidemic raged in October and November and lasted into 1919. The Silverton Weekly Miner, on Nov. 1, 1918, headlined “The Grim Reaper Number of deaths to date totals up to 128.” It was one of the hardest hit communities in the United States.

Duane Smith is a Fort Lewis College history professor. Reach him at 247-2589.