But the Great War was only one of two world-wide battles in 1918. The great influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 swept across the globe in three waves, the most pronounced of which had only begun to wane by November. Indeed, many of the young men drafted to the military in this year died of influenza before even reaching the trenches. Such was the case for Henry Philip Walter Rathke, not even 26 years old, who died in naval service in New York prior to deploying. He was also buried in Lafayette Cemetery No. 1; he left a widow and a young daughter.
Influenza reached the United States via ports like Boston, Massachusetts, and reached New Orleans by late September. With losses of personnel to the war effort, public health officials struggled to contain the epidemic. In Louisiana, calls for nurses plastered newspapers beside advertisements for war bonds. Field hospitals were established and, notably, state and national legislative bodies banned the gathering of crowds of people for the entire month of October. This included meetings of fraternal societies, theatres, and church services.
Through the week leading up to All Saints’ Day, the forced closure of churches led officials statewide to fret about whether services for the holiday would be offered.
Only days before Friday, November 1, did the news break that services would be permitted. Even so, many churches held services outside instead. Attendance to graves in the cemeteries was noted as scarce, likely a reaction to the still-threatening epidemic.
And yet amidst the tragedies of war and illness, one more shadow fell upon those brave enough to visit the cemeteries on All Saints’ Day. Chrysanthemums, traditional flowers for mourning and decorating graves, suffered a blight of their own in 1918.
In the next year, a third and final wave of influenza would cross the United States, as Louisiana’s enlisted men returned home from war. In 1921, a bronze flagpole was erected in Audubon Park to commemorate New Orleans Great War veterans. Yet the commemoration of those lost to war and influenza took place also in the decoration of graves on All Saints’ Days in years to come.
 “Grayson H. Brown Dies at Beauregard,” Times-Picayune, January 19, 1918, p. 11; “Armory Fund Gets Soldier’s Earnings,” Times-Picayune, August 24, 1918.
 Natchitoches Enterprise, October 31, 1918, 3; Times Picayune, November 1, 1918, 10; St. Martinsville Weekly Messenger, October 26, 1918, 2.
 Advertisement of Frank J. Reyes, florist, 525 Canal Street, Times-Picayune, October 20, 1918, 2; “Blight Attacks Chrysanthemum Crop of the City,” Times-Picayune, October 27, 1918, 1.