Brian and Karen Zecchinelli with the Spanish Flu Reflection Bench in Hope Cemetery. By Larry Floersch Last year’s (2017-2018) flu season was a particularly bad one, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with an estimated 80,000 deaths in the United States caused by the flu or its complications. Yet that number pales in comparison with the year 1918, when “Spanish flu” infected one-third of the world’s population and killed an estimated 50 million to 100 million people worldwide. Well over 600,000 of those who died were Americans. This year, 2018, marks the 100th anniversary of that pandemic, and this month, October, marks the peak of that pandemic here in Vermont. Yet few Vermonters alive today are familiar with the catastrophic event and the social upheaval it caused. That has prompted one Central Vermonter, Barre native Brian Zecchinelli, to act. Zecchinelli’s grandfather, Germinio Zecchinelli, died of influenza on October 10, 1918, at the age of 35, one of nearly 200 people to die of the flu in Barre over a three-week period that year. (According to the Vermont Historical Society website, 1,772 Vermonters died of the flu in 1918 out of a population of just under 356,000). Germinio… Read full this story
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