‘International Nurses Day’ is observed on 12 May every year; the date was chosen because it was the birthday of Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910). In the past, it was an occasion that came and went without much notice. But under the shadows of a global pandemic this year, it is finally celebrated with the recognition it deserves – with significant appreciation and gratitude for the toils and sacrifices of nurses worldwide.
Together with doctors, nurses are the front-liners of the medical profession. They are indispensable for the operations of hospitals and modern healthcare. Most of the time, patients and their families appreciate the help of nurses in caring for the sick and infirm. But perhaps we need to express our gratitude more often or openly so that nurses feel truly appreciated.
This year’s ‘International Nurses Day’ is also special – being the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. She was a remarkable English lady who was the pioneer of modern nursing and a social reformer that brought about better healthcare, hospital hygiene, and improved working conditions for women. Her work was widely acknowledged in significantly reducing death rates in military hospitals during the Crimean War. Her image as a compassionate carer for the sick and wounded was immortalised in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1857 poem, “Santa Filomena”:
The wounded from the battle-plain
In dreary hospitals of pain,
The cheerless corridors,
The cold and stony floors.
Lo! in that house of misery
A lady with a lamp I see
Pass through the glimmering of gloom
And flit from room to room.
And slow, as in a dream of bliss,
The speechless sufferer turns to kiss
Her shadow, as it falls
Upon the darkening walls.
On this occasion, Nalanda Buddhist Society Malaysia would like to thank all nurses in the world for doing their remarkable work in caring for the sick and infirm, and for their personal sacrifices in the current epidemic. Wishing all a happy ‘International Nurses Day’. Thank you for your very kind deeds!