Of Thanksgiving and Remembrance, and Gratitude

1918 U.S. Food Administration poster urging food conservation (image credit: Library of Congress)

In this space, Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services talks about and features news from the tradeshow and events industry.  We especially like to tout and herald good news about our clients.

We also use the Insights blog as a place to talk about history and current events and holidays.  Here we sometimes make mention and tout what is most important about the human condition.  Here we herald people doing noble and virtuous work.

And, overall, and broadly, on Insights, we either directly discuss our industry … or we tie, let’s say, indirectly, the history, the current events, the holidays … and noble and virtuous people … to our business and the work we do.

For example, please click here to be taken to this year’s Memorial Day post, and here to be transported to last year’s Thanksgiving post; and clicking here will bring you our 2016 Veterans Day post.

It is also fairly certain that if a subject or event or topic or anniversary is important then there is an exhibition dedicated to the subject, the event, the topic, or the anniversary.  On Insights, we feature the exhibitions.

Willwork is in the exhibition and exhibit business.

Today, the day prior to Thanksgiving 2018, Willwork submits for consideration a remembrance, and encourages a reflection, on an important centennial – of November and 1918.  Of the armistice that ended the Great War, and which took effect at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, and of a disease that still raged throughout the planet as the guns fell silent, and would continue to do so for another year.

That war, which today is most commonly referred to as World War I, was a true global engagement waged by nations and vast empires, on land and at sea.  As well, the war was the first involving large-scale use of aircraft.

The conflict directly killed 9 million combatants and 7 million civilians.

This was also the conflict that was widely and improvidently … and hauntingly … proclaimed to be the War to End All Wars.

Willwork Exhibition & Event Services recommends, for memory and honoring and education, the award-winning National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, MO.  Among the present exhibitions at the National World War I Museum and Memorial – which houses the world’s largest collection of World War I artifacts – are Diggers and Doughboys: The Art of Allies 100 Years On, Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace: The Doughboys 1917-1918, and War Around Us: Soldier Artist Impressions.

During the period of the Great War, massive mobilization of troops across vast distances contributed to the rapid spread of the influenza A (H1N1) virus, the pathogen that wreaked catastrophe in the form of what is popularly known as the 1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic, which actually lasted from 1918 through 1920.

As many as 500 million worldwide were infected with the virus, and anywhere from 50 to 100 million died (which was then about three to five percent of the world’s population), making the epidemic the deadliest natural disaster in history, and a bigger killer than World War I and World War II combined.

There have been, especially in this centenary year, several physical and digital 1918 Spanish Flu exhibitions sponsored by museums and colleges and universities.  One now open, at the Richard E. Bjork Library at Stockton University in New Jersey, is “A Century Later: The Spanish Flu in New Jersey.”  Curator and developer of the exhibition is Brendan Honick, a junior at Stockton University.

Please click here to read a story, published yesterday, that features Mr. Honick’s exhibition.

Perhaps, now, the reader may have had enough of a quotient of death and gloom.

Especially, really, all of this on the cusp of the holiday season.

Well, the fact is, we want to put things in perspective.   We want to encourage some thinking about just how good things are in the United States – our flawed and imperfect republic.  Yes, for sure, America … this America … we are beset with mistakes, sins, and injustice.

And we … America … are also far and away the greatest nation on earth.  No country offers more opportunity – and no country does a better job protecting the rights to which all humans are heir at the moment of their birth.

Willwork – a company with offices in major metropolitan areas across this nation, and which works in cities, towns, villages, and hamlets throughout the U.S. – knows well this United States of America.

We dare say that, on the whole … and far and away … that on this Thanksgiving, an expression of gratitude is in order from the populace.  We should think about and consider what is right and good, and not allow cynicism to steer us in to wallowing and setting anchor in the swirl and festering pool of what is wrong.

Again, perspective.

On Monday, the Pantagraph, a daily newspaper that covers central Illinois, published an installment in its series, A Page From Our Past (PFOP), a section in which the newspaper looks at significant and important historic events and episodes that took place in the Pantagraph coverage area, and inserts into the story excerpts from Pantagraph articles that covered those events, those episodes, as they happened.

The PFOP choice for November 19, 2018 was wholly appropriate.

Here are some selections from, “PFOP: Profound gratitude, relief marked Thanksgiving 1918,” by Bill Kemp:

“Was there ever a more thankful Thanksgiving than the one held Nov. 28, 1918, which came fast on the heels of the one-two punch represented by the end of World War I and the arrival of the great influenza pandemic? ….

“ …. Never in the history of the world has there been greater rejoicing and for a more earnest expression of thanks than at this time, following four years of bloody warfare,” declared The Pantagraph on the occasion of Thanksgiving 1918 ….

“ …. The armistice took effect on Nov. 11, 1918 — the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” The news from Europe reached Bloomington at 1:50 a.m. local time on Tuesday, Nov. 12. By 3:00 a.m., downtown Bloomington was packed with raucous residents of every age, race and class ….

“ …. It was a muted Thanksgiving at the Illinois Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home (later known as the Illinois Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s School) in north Normal, what with more than 100 children still sick with the influenza. Those with an appetite enjoyed a chicken dinner, oysters, and other “eatables and treats” thanks in part to a last-minute gift of $75 by the local grand lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellow … ”

Amid the pain and suffering, people performed at their best, and found occasion for thanks … and for optimism.

Would more of our joined and collaborative societal conduct be of this noble nature.

Willwork wishes everyone a HAPPY THANKSGIVING, and JOYOUS LAUNCH of the HOLIDAY SEASON!!

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