1. Harris, Marilyn D. MSN, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN

Article Content

The World Health Organization declared 2020 The Year of the Nurse and Midwife in celebration of Florence Nightingale's 200th birthday on May 12, 2020. Several years ago, I was introduced to The Nightingale Tribute written by Duane Jaeger, MSN, RN, and available on the Kansas State Nurses Association's website ( The Nightingale Tribute honors any registered nurse or licensed practical nurse for their years of service, and is to be read during their funeral by a nurse colleague or friend.


The entire tribute takes only 2 minutes and can be placed anywhere within the service as appropriate to the traditions and beliefs of the honoree's faith. The format for the Nightingale Tribute begins with a short synopsis of the nurse's career. Then a white rose is placed with the nurse after the reading with the following statement.


"(Name), we honor you this day and give you a white rose to symbolize our honor and appreciation for being our nursing colleague."


This is followed by the Nightingale Tribute reading:


Nursing is a calling, a lifestyle, a way of living. Nurses here today


honor (name of nurse) and her


life as a nurse. (Name) is not remembered by her many


years as a nurse, but by the difference she made during those years


by stepping into people's special moments:


She Was There

When a calming, quiet presence was all that was needed,


She was there.


In the excitement and miracle of birth or in the mystery and loss of life,


She was there.


When a silent glance could uplift a patient, family member or friend,


She was there.


At those times when the unexplainable needed to be explained,


She was there.


When the situation demanded a swift foot and sharp mind,


She was there.


When a gently touch, a firm push, or an encouraging word was needed,


She was there.


In choosing the best one from a family's "Thank You" box of chocolates,


She was there.


To witness humanity-its beauty, in good times and bad, without judgment,


She was there.


To embrace the woes of the world, willingly, and offer hope,


She was there.


And now, that it is time to be at the Greater One's side,


She is there.


Copyright 2004 Duane Jaeger, RN, MSN


I have had the privilege of reading the tribute at memorial services for friends and colleagues. I often tell the family members about the tribute prior to the service or share it during the service when guests are invited to memorialize the deceased. On several occasions, after sharing the tribute with the family, they asked that the reading be included as part of the service.


In January 2020, I shared the tribute with the husband of one of the faith community nurses at the church I attend and honored her with it during her Celebration of Life. The following day I had requests for the tribute from two men whose mothers are nurses so they will have it available at a future date. The tribute is beautiful and meaningful. From a personal perspective, I have asked that it be included in my preplanned memorial service.