Saturday, August 4, 2018


I remember being at a place in Fort Riley where they had nothing but open prairie. It was the graveyard for the men and women who died of the Spanish flu in 1918 and 1919. A wind-whipped prairie fire swept through shortly after they were buried and burned the hundreds of wooden grave markers and nobody really could tell who was buried there. Or where. That it was a cemetery was marked. It wasn't The cemetery, it was merely a place where they buried them as fast as they could.

It was there that the buffalo roamed. It was Fort Riley that comes up again and again as the genesis for the flu but you should see the hospitals they had then. I'm 58, I am very familiar with the hospitals they had there back then. The army tries to amortize infrastructure on a millennial time frame. Their hospitals are always the lowest priority. Those horrible green structures were still around when I was growing up in Fort Riley. They gave one of the buildings over to Boy Scouts which is where I came to see it but it was the same thing all over the country. Temporary buildings built for a War a century ago and then the buildings spent another 60 to 100 years serving the armed forces. The services do have very posh headquarters but you would have got a kick out of NAVCENT back when I worked there in 1996. It's way more posh now.

I was quite angry when the press began shitting on the Army for putting soldiers into Walter Reed, a very old hospital but, more to the point, one that had been selected by the Base Realignment and Closure commission Congress created that ordered that hospital to be shut down and closed forever a few years before 9/11. Once the BRAC put your base or post on the list of things to be shed or sold off, the armed forces could, by actual law, not spend one penny on keeping up the infrastructure. Except pre-existing contracts which had to be honored to the penny. It was written off. Congress never actually got around to replacing the various hospitals they wrote off.

100 years ago the entire world was swept by a disease that killed between 50 and 100 million people. The governments and doctors of the time did their very best to lie it into non-existence.

When you think about it, the numbers are staggering.

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