Early in the morning of March 11, 1918, a young private reported to the Army hospital at Fort Riley, Kansas, complaining of fever, sore throat, and headache. Then, another sick soldier appeared, then another and another. By noon, the hospital had more than one hundred cases; in a week, there were five hundred. Forty-eight soldiers died at Fort Riley that spring. No one knew why.
Influenza 1918 is the story of the worst epidemic the United States has ever known. Before it was over, the flu would kill more than 600,000 Americans — more than all the combat deaths of this century combined.
“For the survivors we spoke to,” says producer Robert Kenner, “the memory is one of horror and fear — which may explain why many Americans were willing to let those few terrible months fade into obscurity. Schoolchildren know more about the Black Plague from centuries ago than they do about this episode in our recent history.”
Influenza of 1918: American Experience
Watch Monday, November 21, 2011 at 2 & 8pm on KCPT2.