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Nurses in History: Edith Cavell While many would not picture nurses to be recognized as heroes during wartime, Edith Cavell was just that. She was a strong women, distinction was awarded to her when she was sentenced to death after a court hearing. Edith was a nurse serving in World War I. She focused her efforts on healing soldiers from both sides of the fight, despite the fact that she was British. Though, she is best known for her treasonous acts, she was a heroine to many. During WWI, she did help both sides, but also aided over 200 Allied soldiers escape from the German-occupied area where she worked. Edith was arrested and found guilty of treason. Her execution was widely publicized and received a lot of negative feedback. Many international individuals pleaded with the government to allow her sympathy, and excuse the crime, which she was charged with. However, she was shot by a German firing squad, but her words of “patriotism is not enough�.

Leading Through Words Her religious upbringing is what brought about her demise. She believed in the good of many around her – working to aid all those needing her. Edith never turned her back on those needing her help, including soldiers for the other side. She was a believer in saving lives, no matter whose life she was saving. Edith trained at the London Hospital, before the days of nursing degrees. She studied hard and was recruited by a doctor to become the matron of his establishing nursing school. She would later published a professional nursing journal, become a training nurse in 3 hospitals, teach nursing as a practice in 24 schools.

Becoming a Nursing Legend For months and years after Edith had passed away, her works were remembered and her spirit sparked something in others. It was her endlessly giving nature that softened many hearts. Publications released articles and stories about her, her accomplishments, and her bravery. She became a figure to rally behind during the War for many women serving as nurses, while they remained cautionary.


Because of her work, allies were treated differently. Because of her gender and profession, she was made to be a hero. Because of her strength even in death, she was an icon. She became a symbol to rally round. She became legend because she was brave. It was written in the American Journal of Nursing that she refused a blindfold during her firing squad. She truly believed in herself and in others. As a memorial they year she died, two national newspapers raised funds in her honor. The money was then used to build 6 rest homes, where nurses would be cared for after their many years of service. After their service in the war, Edith had believed this “time out� for women was well deserved. Today, this work continues under the Cavell Nurses Trust, still honoring the love of Edit. It was her words that make her a legend and someone worth studying. She had no hatred, no bitterness, or animosity towards others. Though she was punished for her care, she stayed true to her beliefs. She was an icon for the sheer fact that she believed in doing what was right over all-else.


Edith cavell