Twins Die in Pandemics —a Century Apart

'History repeats itself,' WWII veteran Philip Kahn liked to say
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2020 12:26 PM CDT
Twins Die in Pandemics —a Century Apart
A nurse takes the pulse of a patient in the influenza ward of the Walter Reed hospital in Washington in this November 1918 photo.   (Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress via AP, File)

When Philip Kahn was just weeks old, his twin brother died in the 1918 flu pandemic. As Kahn grew older, he often spoke of the possibility of another pandemic striking during his lifetime, grandson Warren Zysman tells CNN. "He would say to me, 'I told you history repeats itself, 100 years is not that long of a period of time.'" When the novel coronavirus did arrive, the 100-year-old World War II veteran was only too aware, paying close attention to news reports. Then he started coughing. Kahn, from Great Neck, NY, ultimately died at his home on April 17, knowing he may have contracted the virus, though his positive test result wasn't returned until after his passing. "He talked about his brother a lot in the last few days," says Zysman.

"Knowing that you had a twin that you ultimately never got to know because of a pandemic really affected him," granddaughter Corey Karlin-Zysman tells CBS New York. "He definitely put two and two together and saw the irony in this." The fear he carried doesn't seem to have held him back. The Air Force co-pilot flew missions in Japan, receiving two Bronze Battle Stars. He then became an electrical foreman and helped build the World Trade Center. Though a military ceremony was performed, Zysman says the family wasn't able to give Kahn the large military funeral he wanted. But "one silver lining is that my grandfather will finally have the opportunity to meet his twin brother," he tells CBS. (These sisters also died a century apart.)

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