The year of 1918 brought to mankind the three biggest scourges in living memory: war, disease and famine. The First World War dragged the world in to a conflict that lasted around four years and seeded death throughout Europe among soldiers and civilians. Nowadays, from afar, specialists believe that the First World War may have caused between 10 to 12 million deaths being the civilians the most hardly punished with numbers that indicate 12 to 15 million deaths. In April that year a terrible disease fall upon the world, the pneumonic plague also known as the Spanish Influenza. A calamity without parallel in the history of mankind that other than the 50 million deaths was the key reason to the end of the war, once the disease did not spared the troops and the large offensives planned to achieve victory fall short. Amarante has suffered the consequences in a shy and resigned way, seeing almost five hundred men going to war. Simple and uneducated men without any military training, trusting only his superiors, they too unfit to the circumstances of the global conflict. Many never returned being buried far away from home becoming part of that vast world named as Unknown Soldier. Others have returned after some months in captivity in German territory and others have also returned to be confronted with a terrible disease.
Two names should be remembered: Amadeo de Souza Cardoso and Ana Guedes da Costa. Amadeo de Souza Cardoso the modernist painter with the world ahead that has died at the age of 31 and has seen some of his relatives to die in a tragic way with the same illness that would come to kill him as well. Ana Guedes da Costa the first woman nurse in Portugal that has risked her own life trying to save the patients affected by the pneumonic. A woman that has converted her house in to a hospital with a sense of selflessness and gift that made her an example worthy of our pride and great admiration.
Camões wrote in “Os Lusíadas”, Canto VII
“Joyful Homeland that such children had…” (Free translation)
António Ramalho de Almeida
SHORT BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE
António Ramalho de Almeida was born in 1939 in the Oporto city. He is a doctor graduated by the Oporto University of Medicine and a specialist in respiratory diseases since 1975. He was Service Director in the Gaia Hospital Centre where he has always worked until his retirement in 2005. He is a teacher in the Abel Salazar Bio-Medic Science Institute in the field of Tuberculosis Therapeutics. He was mobilised to the Portuguese Ultramar (overseas) War as a Calvary Official doing service in Guinee between 1964 and 1966. From the early sixties he has found in Amarante the charms of this city and since then he has shared his experience between the family and the well-being. Besides his professional activity he has dedicated most of his time to music and writing being an author of several books such as Tuberculosis, a disease from the past, the present and the future (honourable mention of the Bial Prize 1994), The trilogy of tuberculosis in the life and work of António Nobre, D. Manuel II Sanatorium – contributions to his history, Tales of the Sanatorium, The regicide – a more that perfect crime, Gaia Hospitals (in collaboration), The other side of pneumology, Unloved Guinee – war chronicle, The 125 yeas of the Leça Club and his latest book Autumn is coming. He is a member of the Clube da Letra (Letter Club), a group of Brazilian writers and scholars, having collaborated in the book Celetrando with a tale intituled Maria de la Cruz. He has also collaborated in the work Breathing Arts, of the Spanish society of respiratory diseases with the writing Romanticism Tuberculosis and Literature. Nowadays he is an associate of the Amarante Cultural Centre and a member of the Amarantinos Studies Group.