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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago today in Spokane: Spokane urged to do its patriotic duty and fight the scourge of venereal disease

From the Aug. 23, 1918 Spokane Daily Chronicle (S-R archives)
From the Aug. 23, 1918 Spokane Daily Chronicle (S-R archives)

The greatest problem facing our fighting men? Venereal disease.

That was the message that Major Brown of the federal public health service delivered in a talk to the Spokane City Council.

“These diseases killed and incapacitated more men than all the shells or rifle bullets,” he declared.

The problem was particularly acute in the European armies. He cited a report that claimed that 80 percent of the men in certain Austrian regiments were affected. America’s boys had not suffered as much, and it was Major Brown’s duty to keep it that way.

He said that it was not only up to the soldiers to remain free of this scourge, but also women.

“The women of Spokane, of the nation, must do their part,” he said. “The ‘hug and kiss’ brand of patriotism is not wanted. The girls must protect themselves and the manhood of the nation from taint.”

He said that the men in American training camps were better protected from disease of every sort than ever before, and the army had the situation well in hand.

However, he said that protection begins at home.

“The men must be protected before they go to camp,” he said. “The workers in the rail yards, the lumber mills and camps, and mines, all engage in absolutely essential and vital occupations and must be protected as well as the man in uniform.”

He congratulated Spokane for doing well in this campaign so far.

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