Florence Nightingale

by Prisca from Surabaya

“You ask me why I do not write something.... I think one's feelings waste themselves in words, they ought all to be distilled into actions and into actions which bring results.”
Young Florence
Young Florence

Florence Nightingale was one of the most well-known women heroes around the world for her marvelous contribution to the world of nursing. Even though she passed away a long, long time ago, her name is still remembered by all of us. This shows us one fact already, a true hero’s name will not ever be forgotten by the public. She had done her best during the time she took care of the dying soldiers and told the whole world that everyone deserves a chance to live, even if their chance is not big. From her services to the soldiers, she also told the world that lots and lots of us need to help. That spirit of hers is what raised her name to bloom.

Florence was born in May 12th of 1820 during the Nightingale’s trip to Italy. She was named after the place she was born in, Florence. William Nightingale, Florence’s father, is the one who encouraged his daughters to study and learn. Unlike the other noble families in the 19th century which destined their daughters to live extravagantly and then marry a rich man, William Nightingale forced both of his daughters to learn more. Florence’s elder sister,  Florence’s elder sister, Parthenope (after the town where she was born in Greece) enjoyed partying and the glamorous life like the other noble young ladies. But it seems to be that Florence was fond of learning and she was very enthusiastic about learning. Florence is one of the noble young ladies who had a very large thirst for knowledge..

From all of the subjects she learnt, she was most likely to understand Math the best.

But, despite all of her enthusiasm about learning, Florence found her way that she should sacrifice her life in terms of nursing. When her mother heard this, she was angry with Florence. During that period, nursing was a very unpleasant job to do - even the poor ones refused to do it. It was unbelievable. If I were Florence, of course I would choose to spend my life happily, but it was different with her. She decided to do something more useful for others. This impressed me a lot, because she did this for her whole life, not just for one or a couple of years. Anyway, she succeeded to change the view of what a noble person’s life should be and this was also very remarkable. Florence’s will was very strong. None of her relatives showed her support her, but she intended to go on and do this by herself. Doctor Samuel Ho, an American nobleman who was a friend of the family, visited the Nightingales during his trip to England. He was the only person who supported Florence to reach her dream as a nurse. Without her parents knowing, Florence learnt about the medical world at night secretly. No matter how strong her mental ability could be, a human being will just collapse at the end by all of the pressures.

In 1847, Florence’s parents let their daughter go to Rome for vacation. But she met Sidney Herbert during her trip, and this was very fortunate because he was the one who advised her to go to the school of Kaisersweth and he also found Florence a job as a supervisor in the ‘Clinique of Ladies’.

During that time, Russians were very ambitious, eager to have the Black Sea as a part of them, so they attacked Turkey consistently. Russia also threatened England and France in 1854, so both of the countries finally went to war with Russia. This caused the Crimean War to happen. All of the British had faith that they would win quickly. The money and supplies needed for the British Army were unmanageable. Many soldiers kept dying from their injuries. Florence started her long journey there. She went down to Scutaria with 38 nurses. Their life there was absolutely terrible. Between 38 nurses, 4 of them didn’t survive longer in that situation so they decided to go back to England. But Florence didn’t move an inch and she gave her best for the soldiers. It was amazing for a noble lady to survive living like slaves, but Florence finally succeeded. Not only in nursing, she also developed a table called the ‘polar-area diagram’ which counted the needless deaths caused by unhygienic conditions and the need to re-construct. Florence believed that the social phenomena could be measured and subjected to mathematical analysis. Surprisingly, her invention worked great. It decreased a lot of death rates. Even though Florence showed her magnificent contribution, the troops' doctors still looked down on her. But the soldiers that she was taking care of saw her as a savior. They named her ‘The Lady With The Lamp’ and loved her very much for all that she did for them.

Lady with the lamp
Lady with the lamp

Surprisingly, the public didn’t even know that Florence was still alive. Florence actually encouraged this misinformation to spread. This meant that Florence was very down to earth and she didn’t like to be praised and envied. She was definitely not a snob, and the spirit of a hero will always be like Florence’s. She went back home to England secretly. Queen Victoria awarded her an emblem designed by her husband.The word Crimea was carved at the bottom of it and on the surrounding, it was written “ Blessed Are The Merciful”. It was of course more valuable than the emblem itself. It showed that the Queen was really impressed by her. Not only the Queen, the public was also hypnotized by the charm of Florence.They also awarded her an emblem. This matter also amazed me. Florence could touch the public’s heart by what she did. Her spirit also inspired Henri Dunant to unite The Red-Cross Organization. It’s true then, just one person can change the world. This organization was surely very familiar to us and it still contributes to people all over the world.

Although she had passed away, her spirit still affects the world until now. The next generation was awarded by the Nightingale’s Medal every 2 years, which was held on Florence’s birthday. A true hero’s contribution will never fade, and so it is with Florence. Maybe she’s away right now, but she kept the light of her lamp shining for us. That’s why, for me, she’s a hero indeed.

Page created on 9/4/2011 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 9/4/2011 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.