I’m watching a documentary on PBS called “Fire and Ice� about the “Winter War�, a war between the USSR and Finland in 1940. Wow. I never learned anything about this in school. Or if I did, it was a paragraph so short I don’t remember a thing about it.

It was so cold that as soon as people were shot, they’d start to freeze. They said they found four soldiers who’d had their throats slit standing up, and they froze that way – standing up, dead, frozen solid.

The USSR attacked Finland because they felt the border was too close to Leningrad. Finland did a valiant job of holding them off, even though they were outmanned and outgunned. But the Finns knew the land and had the will to fight for their freedom. Nevertheless, they had to agree to let the USSR have part of their land in exchange for peace. That part of Finland is still Russian territory today.

I wish my education had been better. I continually learn about things – bits of history, for instance – that I learned nothing about in school. I spent enough years sitting in class being bored, while all this fascinating information was just waiting out there for me. It’s so frustrating!

And this also makes me think of the pandemic of 1918â€? another thing I learned nothing about in schoolâ€? people on the news and tv have talked about it recently in the wake of the bird flu scare, but before that, the pandemic was almost never spoken of. It was huge – millions died around the world – it was bigger than WWI, more massive than the Great Depression – but nearly wiped out of our history books as though it never happened. Such societal amnesia is baffling. I can only think that it was too much. People could handle war and poverty, but the pandemic was on such a scale and so powerful and merciless that the only way they could handle it afterwards was to put it as far out of their minds as possible. I can think of no other explanation.

Anyway – here’s to continued education! (Flu by Gina Kolata is a good book about the 1918 pandemic, BTW. It’s not the only one out there, but it’s the only one I’ve read so far.)