History repeats itself

The recent events of the coronavirus have turned a new page in the history books of the world. Since the flu pandemic of 1918, the world has never faced a foe as deadly and life changing as this one.
As news of the virus moved from China, into Italy, through the United Kingdom and into the United States, life as we know it changed and has not been the same since.
Sporting events on every scale came to a jolting halt; schools closed early; high school seniors were robbed of graduation and prom; businesses were ordered to shut their doors; and the economy went from some of the highest numbers in years to hitting almost rock bottom.
Not only do I write for this publication and “atmore” magazine as part of my career, but I also serve as a historian and historical consultant in many different capacities and settings. Over the years and currently, opportunities have presented themselves for me to work with the National Geographic Channel, History Channel and as part of numerous major motion pictures and documentary productions.
Despite all of this, my true love for history is set locally in Alabama and my home counties of Escambia and Monroe. As a true lover of local history and historic preservation, I began to think about the recent events and how they have not only affected globally, but also here at home.
In 1918, the flu pandemic swept across the local area and nationally and the country appeared much as it does at the current moment. Businesses closed doors, schools adjourned and the economy came to a halt. Its amazing to think that even though this event occurred over 100 years ago, during a time when technology was limited, that the events of recent days are so similar.
The only difference is that the world solely relies on technology and computers. From our jobs, schools and everyday life cell phones, iPads and computers are basically superglued to our fingers.
As I am guilty of this myself, I point no fingers at anyone else for relying so much on modern technological advancement. Like many others, I would be completely lost without my cell phone strapped to my person.
While many say that the 1918 flu pandemic was much worse than this event, I beg to differ.
In 1918, the world was just exiting a devastating World War I. Many sons and husbands were returning home with horrible wounds. Those who were fortunate enough to return home with all of their limbs suffered injuries mentally from the events they took part in and witnessed.
Then comes the flu pandemic which stemmed from the trenches in France. Even though it is often referred to as the “Spanish Flu,” that statement is false. At the time, Spain suffered more cases than any other country, so naturally fingers were pointed at Spain. In all actuality the pandemic was unknowingly brought into the United States by returning service members. That pandemic claimed the lives of millions of people.
Fast forward 100 years and here COVID-19 presents itself.
During 1918 events, many recalled bodies being stored in freezers due to shortage of coffins. As we look around the world, especially in New York, we see history repeating itself as bodies of the victims are being stored in ice trucks and refrigerated units.
These past few weeks have been tough for all the world. Many are scared of entering essential businesses, in fear that the coronavirus will claim them as the next victim.
When someone like myself examines these two events from a historian’s standpoint, the distance in time deteriorates and the two events become one in the same. Our area has survived every tragic event within history. Atmore has witnessed the events of the Creek Indian Wars, played a major role in the last days of the Civil War, suffered loss during the 1918 pandemic, lost sons in the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, The Korean War, Vietnam, The Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan. No event that we have ever witnessed in Atmore and Escambia County has ceased our existence.
Even though the last few weeks have been difficult and scary and the coming weeks will regrettably be the same, we will overcome just as the community did in 1918. When united, Atmore can and will overcome any obstacle that presents its ugly head. It takes God and a unity to pull through events such as this.
History does repeat itself and this event is a learning experience.
If and when, something of this nature occurs again, Atmore will overcome and unite.