Editor’s note: Urban architectural historian, preservationist and university professor John Gomez today concludes a special series on the global Spanish influenza pandemic that reached and devastated Hudson County between 1918-1920.
Part 4: Saints of Hudson County
What city remembers its saints?
What city can recall — without difficulty, without confusion — the frontline heroes of the 1918-1920 Spanish influenza pandemics? Who now in Hudson County can call out the names of the paragons who were praised during those thousand death-dealing days for their selfless sacrifices? Who at this hour and at this moment knows with certainty what they gave — always their compassion, sometimes their one lives — to save the stricken?
That they are forgotten and uncelebrated in 2020 — a full century after their divine deeds and as an eerily similar coronavirus is upending civilization and community — is a travesty that points to all modern-day mayors, all city halls.
All it takes is a turning of the pages to see their distinctive names, to almost touch their faraway faces. Beyond the usual political personas of that terror-filled period — autocrat mayors and their bevies of subordinates pretending to have a grasp on a global influenza outbreak — there were empathy-filled citizens, community activists, civic and social clubs, public and private school educators and clergy of every denomination who conscripted themselves to battling the disease no one knew anything