CBS News: And now a page from our “Sunday Morning” Almanac: May 12th, 1820, 193 years ago today . . . a Mother’s Day, of sorts, for a healing profession.
For that was the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.
Born to a wealthy British family, Nightingale grew up to reject marriage and a comfortable life, training instead to be a nurse.
During the Crimean War against Russia in the 1850s, Nightingale went to the front lines to attend to British troops wounded in Balaclava and other battles, and was appalled by the unsanitary hospitals she found.
Her take-charge response was dramatized in a 1985 TV movie starring Jaclyn Smith in the title role:
Nightingale: “Are the men ever cared for in any way, or are they just brought here to die?”
Laboring late into every evening, Nightingale earned the nickname “The Lady With the Lamp” . . . and helped shock the British public and government into taking action.
After the war, she worked just as tirelessly to improve civilian medical care back at home, including the creation of her own nursing school in 1860.
Florence Nightingale died in 1910 at the age of 90, but her example continued to inspire nurses on both sides of the Atlantic.
During World War II, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt honored the nurses who helped heal America‘s wounded.
More recently, in 2010, President Obama offered his own personal tribute to the American Nurses Association:
“A nurse will hold your hand sometimes, or offer a voice of calm, or a knowing glance that says things are going to be okay.”
Today, we mark the final day of National Nurses Week — a salute to all of America’s nurses — and to the Lady With the Lamp who lit the way.
For more info:
Florence Nightingale Museum, London
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