Country Joe McDonald's Tribute to|
M A Y 1 2, 1 8 2 0 - A U G U S T 1 3, 1 9 1 0
"The pioneers of one generation are forgotten when their work has passed into the accepted doctrine and practice of another." -- Edward Cook, Florence Nightingale
n the 12th of May, 1820, in the city of Florence, Italy, Frances Nightingale gave birth to her second child. Another girl. In honor of the city of her birth and in keeping with the tradition started by her parents, the little girl was named Florence. An unusual thing to do in a conservative time. This little girl was to bear no children of her own but to become perhaps the most famous woman of all time and give birth to the profession of nursing as we know it today. In response to a call from God to nurse the sick poor she was to turn her back on love, wealth, society and comfort the likes of which few will ever know to single handed champion a new direction for women of the world and health of all its citizens. This was not to be an easy task.
It was to be a difficult birth full of anxiety bordering on insanity; frustrations few could endure, loneliness and physical and mental pain that would have killed a regular person. She wandered in her own wilderness. Most often alone and misunderstood by her mother and sister and those around her. Growing up in a world of golf courses and servants and grandeur, royalty, operas and luxury, she taught herself the art of nursing and the knowledge of hospitals. In an age where the smell of a hospital would induce nausea and nurses were typically whores and drunks she aspired to be one. Her mother and sister fainted and were thrown into hysterics and near insanity by her ambitions ... but she continued on, becoming the one and only expert on the subject of nursing and hospitals in all of Europe by the age of 30.
It was not until the age of 33 that she dressed herself and did her own hair. The family house in Hampshire had 70 gardeners. The girls were presented to Queen Victoria at the ages of 17 and 16 years. She was to prove that the patients in London hospitals died at a rate of 90% while those sick that did not go to hospital died at a rate of 60%. She had one and only one desire and that was to nurse.
She lived a long and wondrous life of 90 years. Through the Victorian age into the age of electricity and biology. From darkness into light. From a tortured secret life of sorrow and almost madness she emerged as a war hero and leader of a society of women that spans the world over to this day. She predicted her own fate ... that some day she would be "nothing but a name" ... FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE … but that her works would live on forever.