1. Jaeger, Duane MSN, RN, PMH-CNS

Article Content

In a recent Commentary, Marilyn Harris (2020) introduced readers to the Nightingale Tribute. "She Was There" is a copyrighted poem included in The Nightingale Tribute, which originated out of District 10 of the Kansas State Nurses Association (KSNA), a constituent of the American Nurses Association (ANA). This is an accounting of the creation of a recognized and accessible memorial framework to celebrate the life and work of our nursing colleagues.


In early 2004, nurses in the heart of Kansas were exploring the distinguished ceremonies that were used by other organized groups, such as the military and the Masons. This group of nurses was inspired and motivated to develop a similar, nurse-specific, memorial for nurse colleagues. District 10 nurses submitted a draft of "The Nightingale Tribute" and Janice Jones (KSNA President, 2003-2005) introduced the subject to the KSNA Board of Directors in April of 2004. The concept was well received. They discussed the brochure and offered minimal edits; the project was approved! There was a snag, however. The group had used published writings that were copyrighted or protected. Terri Roberts (KSNA Executive Director, 1985-2008) made a decision that would prove to be a pivotal point for me. Terri said, "Duane you write, you can write something that would be ours" indicating it would be wise to have our own (KSNA) suggested reading. The challenge was on!


Topeka, Kansas is about 130 miles northeast of my home in Wichita, Kansas. The drive home that day was a gift. Format and content stirred the creative processes in my mind. The drive was clarifying and my enthusiasm for the project was true. During my college years, I wrote my papers in my head before committing them to paper. This assignment was no different. I remember how my bedroom was arranged and where my dog was lying that night as I brainstormed and created the poem in my mind. Stanzas came to me as I arranged my thoughts into areas of nursing. The poem "She Was There" is referred to in the Nightingale Tribute brochure as a suggested reading for memorial services. "She Was There" became my anchoring refrain.


It was April of 2004, and the assignment was due in August. What I wrote in my head on the drive, that night and early the next morning would be what I presented to KSNA in August. "She Was There" was accepted by the Board of Directors as the suggested reading for the Nightingale Tribute (Jaeger, 2004), and debuted during the KSNA Annual Convention in October. The Board of Directors proposed the Nightingale Tribute to ANA as the official memorial for our nursing colleagues. The ANA House of Delegates approved the Nightingale Tribute in June of 2005. Janice Jones (KSNA President, 2003-2005) and I read the Nightingale Tribute at that meeting. Deceased nurse's names were read by their state president. The Nightingale Tribute Ceremony has been official business of ANA since that time.


I received calls from all over the United States, as well as England and Canada. Colleagues called me or KSNA for permission to use it. Paper copies of nurse's Nightingale Tribute were sent to me from colleagues organizing the ceremonies. Nursing organizations, individuals, ANA, and others have documented their work with the Nightingale Tribute. It has been remarkable and heart-warming to witness the evolution of the Nightingale Tribute over the past 15 years.




Harris M. D. (2020). The Nightingale Tribute: Remembering a Nurse. Home Healthcare Now, 38(6), 343. [Context Link]


Jaeger D. (2004). She Was There. The Kansas Nurse, 79(7), 4. [Context Link]