Medical Miracle in Panama I

Lead: Before breaching the Panamanian land bridge, the builders of the Isthmus Canal knew they first had to deal with disease.

Tag: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After his brilliant construction of the Suez Canal, Ferdinand de Lesseps set out in the 1870s to duplicate his achievement by crafting a shipping canal across the Isthmus of Panama. He failed. De Lesseps underestimated the enormity of the task, his technology was much too primitive, and the French design for a sea-level canal was fatally flawed, but much of the failure can be attributed to a deadly pair of diseases. Malaria and yellow fever took thousands of lives and put many more in bed for weeks of convalescence and depression. Engineers freshly graduated from the École Polytechnique in Paris would arrive in Colon filled with enthusiastic anticipation and die within a week. Thousands of manual laborers recruited from Caribbean islands fell victim in this grim harvest of death.

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Flu Epidemic of 1918 II

Lead: Contracted from pigs, in 1918 influenza began to spread through U.S. troops called up for service in World War I. Soon the disease had become an epidemic that spread through a world population already weakened by four years of war.

Tag: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Many experts believe the flu virus exists naturally in birds and is then transmitted to pigs where it mutates into a virulent form that in an infected human body causes fever, chills, weakness of the muscles and nausea. The virus makes its way through the air to its victim’s respiratory apparatus. It is a swift, clever, and sometimes deadly agent, a survivor of great tenacity. Influenza requires little more than a population weakened by hunger, other diseases, or war, to transform itself from a localized irritant to an epidemic of global proportions. In 1918 the world was ripe for the picking. 

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Flu Epidemic of 1918 I

Lead: A case of the flu is considered by most people a minor irritant, the subject of humor, the excuse to take off a day or two from work, one of those occasional hardships of life that must be endured. In the winter of 1918, however, the flu was no joke.

Tag: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Influenza is a virus, a clever survivor, ever vigilant for opportunities to mutate and spread. Many experts believe that the flu virus lives harmlessly in birds. On occasion flu viruses from birds infect pigs, whose immune system then attacks the virus, causing it to mutate. The new virus created in this process is then passed to humans and, depending on the conditions, an outbreak may not be far behind.

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Mary, Queen of Scots III

Lead: Following the dictates of her heart and possessing a romantic streak of daring, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, lost her kingdom and then her life.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Returning from France in 1561, the widow of the King of France, Mary Stuart, took on the Scottish lairds and for a time charmed them and took good counsel in state affairs. She was a Catholic ruler of an increasingly Presbyterian nation, but for the most part she deflected attempts to marginalize her power. The Queen’s downfall came not from her religion, but from her romantic lack of judgment. Mary Stuart’s cousin, Elizabeth I of England, was also a ruler without a husband, but unlike the English queen who was not at all averse to using her sexuality as a weapon, Mary made her love affairs the center of her life not the instrument of her rule. In so doing she combined the granite stubbornness of her Scottish heritage with flirtatious demeanor of a French coquette. She has emerged as one of history’s silliest women.

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Mary, Queen of Scots II

Lead: Into the burgeoning turmoil that was Scotland in the 1560s Mary Stuart, recently widowed Queen of France, returned to claim her rights as Queen of the Scots.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: As a young child Mary was sent to France to be educated and groomed in the French royal household. In 1558 she married Francis, the Dauphin of France, the heir to the French throne. When his father, King Henry II died in a hunting accident, Mary became the Queen of France. When Francis died suddenly 18 months later, Mary was left with a choice, to remain in Paris, a foreigner and a has-been, or return to Edinburgh. The thought of exchanging the sparkling social and intellectual life of Paris for the dreary isolation of Scotland must have been daunting, but Mary had a daring streak in her and Scotland loomed on a horizon filled with opportunity.

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Mary, Queen of Scots I

Lead: In August 1561 Mary Stuart, the teenaged Queen of Scotland, landed near Leith, home from France to claim her rights as ruler of a nation that had changed.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Mary Stuart was born in 1542 in the County West Lothian village of Linlothgow. She was the daughter of King James V and his wife Mary, a member of the powerful French Catholic family of Guise. Six days after her birth, James died and Mary became the infant Queen of Scotland. To conduct the affairs of state, however, the baby’s mother Mary Guise was selected as Regent, destined to rule until Mary Stuart could take her place. At the age of six Mary was packed off to France, to be groomed and educated in the French royal household, but more importantly, in view of subsequent events, she evolved into a determined, faithful daughter of the Roman Catholic Church.

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