Nurse Honor Guard of the River Cities Holds First Pinning Ceremony

Nurse Honor Guard of the River Cities Holds First Pinning Ceremony

Sasha Bush

The Ashland Beacon


   “Give me strength and wisdom, when others need my touch; a soothing word to speak to them, their hearts yearn for so much. Give me joy and laughter, to lift a weary soul; pouring in me compassion, to make the broken whole. Give me gentle healing hands, for those left in my care; a blessing to those who need me, this is a nurse’s prayer.”

   Being a nurse means that you get the rare opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life every day you walk through those doors. As a nurse, you have the privilege of being present when that newborn babe takes its first breath of life and is welcomed into this world. You get to witness the triumphs of those that have faced adversity and come out a warrior. Not all journeys end on a happy note, so as a nurse you will be there to comfort and hold the hands of those who will take their last breath on this earth. Being a nurse brings with it many tears… tears of sorrow, tears of joy, tears of relief, tears of frustration, and every type of tear in-between. Nurses are the backbone of any successful hospital or doctor’s office. Without nurses, patients would not get that one-on-one patient care that can be the deciding factor as to whether they have a good experience or a bad experience at the doctor’s office or hospital. Nursing is all about touching the lives of those around you and in the process, some of those lives may touch your own along the way. 

   “Nursing is a calling, a way of life. nursing is a service, a profession that cannot be lived in isolation. nurses rely on each other for the synergistic effect of teamwork in our efforts of caregiving. it is appropriately deemed that we honor our colleagues not only during their career but also at the end of life’s journey”. That is what is known as the Nightingale Tribute. The Nurse Honor Guard of the River Cities has made it their mission to do just that. To honor those both living and those that have passed who dedicated their lives to nursing.  The group was first formed back in 2019 by Dorothy Spillman and Maria Oakes and has since honored a total of 123 nurses and their families and continues to do so today. Together they work to provide comfort to the family and loved ones of fallen nurses by recognizing those who devoted their lives to the profession of nursing and showed such great devotion and commitment when caring for others. The group formed in 2019 but didn’t become official until March 26, 2021. Spillman shared, “Our services are free of charge and per the family’s request, we present the families of fallen nurses with white Florence Nightingale Lamps. We also present a white rose to the deceased. A white rose means honor. We are there to simply honor them. We will attend the funeral or memorial services wearing traditional white uniforms. We will stand guard at the casket or urn during visitation and will honor the fallen nurse with a tribute.” 

   The history of the Nightingale Lamp is quite an interesting one, the lamp itself is modeled after the oil lamp that was used by Florence Nightingale. Nightingale was a nurse during the mid to late 1800s that is well known for her work in Crimea which set the standards for modern nursing as we know it. Nightingale would often care for her patients into the late hours of the night with her only light source being the oil lamp. This is how she established the image of “Lady with the Lamp. 

   On Saturday, October 1, 2022, the Nurse Honor Guard of the River Cities held a special pinning ceremony to honor its current members and welcome several new members to its ranks. This ceremony was to honor them for their hard work and dedication to the profession of nursing. The ceremony took place in the Annex building behind the Second Freewill Baptist Church, located in Ashland Kentucky, at 2121 29th Street. During the ceremony, the Executive Board presented a Nurse Honor Guard pin to all its new members in attendance. Dorothy Spillman, one of the founders and President of the Nurse Honor Guard of the River Cities shared, “We hope to have a yearly pinning ceremony to honor all our new members. This was our first pinning ceremony.” During the ceremony, Spillman stated, “This ceremony is to honor you. To honor you for all your hard work and to honor you for supporting a cause that is so near and dear to all our hearts. We are here to honor you for your commitment to paying tribute to one of our own on the day of their funeral.” What a beautiful ceremony it was. Standing tall in their white uniforms, white caps, white shoes and navy cape with red lining, the Nurse Honor Guard of the River Cities honored not only its current members but also their fellow nurses that could no longer be with us. One such nurse was one of its founders, Maria Oakes, who was the President of the Nurse Honor Guard of the River Cities, who recently passed away, and tribute was paid to her during the ceremony as well. 

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