Military Nurses Honored at Arlington Ceremony
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 11, 2009 Army, Navy and Air Force nurses participated yesterday in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery’s Nurses Memorial to honor their comrades who gave their lives in the line of duty.
Participating in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Nurses Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery are, from left, Clayton Jones, senior vice commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart; Air Force Maj. Gen. Kimberly Siniscalchi, assistant Air Force surgeon general; Jim Sims, commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart; Navy Rear Adm. Cynthia Dullea, deputy commander of the Navy Medicine National Capital Area; Army Col. Victoria Ransom, deputy commander for nursing at Fort Meade, Md.; and Gwendolyn Gilliard, president of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Courtesy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart laid a wreath at the memorial, which pays homage to the dedication and sacrifice of military nurses from all services and through the ages.
Jim Sims, national commander of the veterans’ service organization, noted in his opening comments that the annual event provides the opportunity to salute not just nurses, but all military medical personnel.
Sims paid tribute to “all of those who made it possible for us to be nurtured back to health and made it possible for us to come back home.”
He also lauded “nurses in field hospitals, on field ships, or manning evacuation aircraft; the hospital corpsmen and medics in the field, taking care of wounds or injuries, or performing lifesaving measures to get soldiers, Marines or airmen back to duty or ready for evacuation; the doctors who patched us up; the lab and X-ray technicians and pharmacy personnel who helped ensure diagnoses were complete and accurate.”
Air Force Maj. Gen. Kimberly A. Siniscalchi, assistant Air Force surgeon general, urged those at the ceremony to pause in a moment of silence to remember the “sacrifice, dedication and devotion” of military nurses.
“Nurses have had a lasting impact and presence in all military conflicts, from the beginning of the American Revolution through today, as we continue to serve our warfighters,” she said. “We are valiantly performing in combat operations, natural disasters and responding to humanitarian calls. We are the nation’s health care ambassadors across the globe.”
The Nurses Memorial is nestled on a hill in Arlington National Cemetery’s Section 21, known as the “Nurse’s Section.” A 10-foot-tall, white marble statue of a military nurse looks out over rows of headstones that mark the final resting place of Army, Navy and Air Force nurses.
Among them is Dr. Anita Newcomb McGree, who helped found the Army Nurse Corps and became a leader in the movement to have the monument built, then placed in Arlington. The statue was unveiled at the cemetery in 1938.
The Military Order of the Purple Heart of the USA is a congressionally chartered service organization formed in 1932 to represent servicemembers and veterans who have received the Purple Heart medal after being wounded in combat.