Sunday, August 2, 2015

Nursing Body and Soul

A warrior's life is hard and often brutal. It is a pleasure to take the non-Viking option and retire to a Tavern rather than shout "'Tis a good day to die" and throw one's tired old bones into the fray for one last and certain time.

But someone has to do it while there are bad people about. Do the fighting, that is. And the carnage can be terrible. It is 'Men's Work'. But what about the women? 

Many is the chat around the bars about women not being man enough for soldiering, but few of such chats, usually by youngish lads who have not done much themselves, look at the contributions of women to the 'war effort', especially the effect they have on wounded men.

So the lads in the Tavern were treated to a fair dose of reality by the Southern Gal, who interspersed her recital of brave and very real women with an idealised fictional one. 

As she made clear, the wounded man is thrown back into his soul when dragged from the field of battle. His attackers may not be present to continue their assault upon him but he is continually fighting  the consequences of their malistrations, and his resources are spiritual. Women can and do evoke that spiritual response.

He is a man. She is his helpmeet: a cure.

She has had her head in the history books - or perhaps herstory ones - reading of nurses during the wars. These courageous gals went right to the front line and they brought far more than 'Hotlips Houlihan' ever could. No snarky feminist remarks from them. Just immense love and care for 'their boys'. 

Military Medical Officers are a small and identifiable group who suffer the highest suicide rate of any identifiable group. Because of the pain they feel when losing a brave patient. Nurses lose patients too. Their tears flow.

But, let is hear from my lovely friend the Southern Gal. It is high time we let the discussions go into Feminine Virtue and Womanhood, and the loss of these which our society is experiencing. 

She speaks loudly and questioningly to Women here.
There is something in the world that is vastly misunderstood about love.  Especially by the modern women, it is often pursued in fairy tale books without acknowledging the sacrifices that one must pay in order to achieve such an ideal.   
Female virtue must be brought back if we are ever to save her.  What can we learn from our predecessors here?
"This is our hour-the hour toward which everything in our past lives has been leading.  Perhaps we have been complacent and indifferent to life's need for us.  But now in this time of real danger the future depends on you and me.  We cannot deny the fact that the war can be lost.  If we and others refuse to believe this and remain careless of our country's danger, the fate of our unprepared people can be ours.  But now the time of excuses and delays is past.  The destruction of the lives and homes of our countrymen has occurred and our liberties are being imperiled." 
-Major Julia C. Stimson, ANC 
"Our Hour," America Journal of Nursing, February 1942 

"There's no glamour about a wounded boy.  He is dirty with foxhole grime.  He is in pain.  His clots are matted with mud and blood, and he has a week's beard.  He is often more dead than alive.  And he's tired, so tired.
No, there's no glamour about him.  But I've seen his strained, old face relax in peace and go young again at the touch of our hands.  His gratitude for a bath and a shave--or clean sheets and a chance to sleep--for our anxiety for our care, is so stupendous that it makes us humble.  He is so grateful for so little!" 
--Quoted in Janet M. Geister, R.N.
"They Need You So!"  Trained Nurse and Hospital Review,December 1944
There is strength in gentleness, the quiet peace in the battles of war.  There is serenity with a women like this. 
Here Arwen is, embodied as best as Hollywood can onscreen. This kind of womanhood is not just written about in fairy tales.  It is real, written about in real life details by our men during World War 2.  Who can inspire a man like this?  
These words sum up the feelings of the nearly 77,000 women who answered Uncle Sam's call to follow our young American men onto the battle field during WW2.  
Australian, English, Canadian, Irish, New Zealand, aye and French too. Many fine young women and older ones too, went into earthly hell with the men and many suffered capture, torture and death.
Many of them lost their lives, but despite the possible dangers they faced in hostile territories, 98 percent of the women who joined the nursing corps requested overseas tours.   
Something that strikes me about these women is how brave they were.  Even with the harsh conditions they continued to maintain a sense of feminine virtue along the way.  Their womanhood remained intact and it was greatly appreciated by those young men.
From a general: "I've seen them work in Africa, Sicily, and Normandy.  I say in all sincerity that no one has done more for the American soldier than the nurses in our hospitals." 
From a surgeon at a clearing hospital: "The patients make faster progress when a nurse looks after them.  She's an American women who represents home, mother, wife and sister to the wounded soldier.  Just the sound of her voice is sometimes as good as medicine." 
Some words from President Eisenhower;
"Any words by me would be inadequate to pay proper tribute to the Army nurses and to work that they are doing here and elsewhere.  From Bataan to Normandy, the contributions of American women serving as nurses in our Army have spoken for themselves. One needs only to talk the wounded or witness our nurses at work in the field and in hospitals to realize that they are taking their places alongside the greatest women in the history of our country.  Nothing stops them in their determination to see that our troops receive the best attention humanly possible." 
These women were strong, they answered the call of their men, their country.  They had something most modern women lack - selfless service.  Their strength was in the empathy they showed for the wounded men they treated. Their selfless service was written on the faces of the men whose lives they saved.   
A note here about 'empathy'. Such women as these did not 'claim' it like feminists do (and by opposition claim men do not have it), they LIVED it.  
A woman must possess a proper proportion of virtues within herself. The exercise of feminine virtues greatly enhance a woman's beauty and ability to have a nourishing, lifegiving effect upon her family and the world around. 
Just as it is crucial for a man to have well-developed masculine virtues, a wise woman should develope feminine virtues within herself. 
Upon the foundation of feminine virtues, developing SOME masculine virtues can be a good thing, but if they are dominant at the exclusive of the feminine virtues, a woman will end up unbalanced, unfeminine and consequently, unattractive. A woman who is just but lacks compassion and tenderness, will be quite an unaffectionate and unsympathetic person. Is it perfectly reasonable for a woman to exercise a proper measure of justice, when needed, so long as compassion, love and empathy are always predominant.   
Here is an example of of a not so old version of feminine virtue from a male perspective.
"When they reached land, they rolled up their slacks and waded ashore.
They spent the first night on the beach, eating canned rations and drinking water from their canteens.  Eventually, some were taken by jeep to a three-story building that has been turned into a hospital.  There were wounded men everywhere, some French, some American, some Arab.  One America tugged at the hem of Nurse Ruth Haskell's slacks and asked for a drink of water.  As she lifted his head to let him drink from her canteen, she asked, " Where are you hurt?"  The man gasped.  "An American women!  Where did you come from?"                                                                                      ----Shaaron Cosner. War Nurses
Where are the women like these today?  What happened to womanhood in the west?  Where is she?  Still written in the hearts of so many little girls?  To be a part of an adventure? To heal her knight?  Where is the joy that was once written on our childhood faces?  Women had the ability to inspire, to heal. 
 Is there not power in this?  Why is this considered weakness by the modern west?  What is weak about the ability to heal?   
Where is our charm?  Where is the joy that was once written on our grandmothers faces?  Where is the love we once had for these men? 
What motivates Arwen?  What comparison can be made?  What draws her to our "modern" day nurse?  What bonds to they share?  Love.  "The greatest of these things is - love." 
 Watch her, you can see it in her face, in her eyes.  She portrays femininity beautifully. 
Sit back now, let me tell you a story:  
"This interchange probably happened hundreds of times throughout the war and one can only imagine the comfort and appreciation the GIs ft when seeing an American nurse.  Ruth Haskell, whose unit served in North Africa during the first days of the Operation TORCH (invasion of North Africa, November 8, 1942), wrote, "There has never been a time in my life hat I was so proud to be a nurse, to be able to help."  And she was just the tonic the men needed.  Known as one of the cheeriest nurses on duty, Haskell shouted her patients awake each morning saying, " Wake up, you great, big, beautiful things." Instead of asking to take a pulse, she'd say,"Let me hold your hand." 
Nurses, love and Romance seemed to go hand in hand during the war, it was said by a docter that the patients morale boosted 100% when they knew a women was looking after them.  The nurses cared for their soldiers, and never suffered more than when they couldn't save a soldiers life, relieve his suffering or give them enough care or attention. 
A letter from a British soldier written to President Roosevelt about the American nurses:
I am a British Tommy and I have taken this great liberty in writing to you to express my sincere and heartfelt thanks, though you, to the docters and nursing staff of the _____.(sic) Station Hospital, USA, who are somewhere in North Africa, and who, through their wonderful skill and patience, have made it possible for me to be a fit man once more.  Especially to Docter Major Brody and Lieutenant Longyear.
How can I ever thank you enough for all that you did for me---and the nurse of ward 27, who I only knew as Miss Connie?  Nothing was ever too much trouble for her to make our pain and wounds easy to bear.
The treatment I received in my six weeks stay at this hospital will forever live in my memory, and there is one British soldier who really means it when he says, " God Bless America."
In closing, I should be very greatful if you could convey my sincere and heartfelt thanks to the medical staff of the above-mentioned hospital.
I am yours sincerely
pg 141 "They Called Them Angels"
The American nurses were so dedicated to the wounded men that when Hattie Brantley and the their nurses were taken as POW in the Phillippines, they insisted on waiting for their wounded, and did not go until they were forced out at bayonet point into the trucks that took them away to the prisoner of war camp.  
This is love that is self-sacrificing, it is life giving.  
The nurses that died in combat were called to something far greater than themselves.  Many of them died young, they never aged.  But it was a price many were willing to pay for the love of their country, for the love of their men.
Watch Arwen, she portrays this sacrifice beautifully,  she chooses her knight over a immortal life.  You see it, in her eyes.  There is a vulnerability in femininity.  It is not based on a fear of showing hurt or love.  Many times they are one in the same.  And Arwen shows us, in her eyes here.
MALE AND FEMALE are more than biological realities. They are spiritual essences and cultural ideals. 
Bonald, a writer who takes his pseudonym from the French  monarchist Louis de Bonald, describes these ideals at his site, Throne and Altar. He writes:
"Of course, each nature has its characteristic deformations, but it is always a gross error to identify a thing with its deformation. Machismo is a deformation of chivalry for men who have forgotten that their prowess is to be put in the service of the weak. The bully’s manliness is imperfect. Similarly, one should never identify femininity with girlish vanity and frivolousness. Masculinity and femininity are essentially relational virtues. They inform all of our closest relationships, which are always relationships of dependence. It is only for very superficial relationships that I can say that the relationship would be no different if my partner were a man rather than a woman, or vice versa. This is why the drive to eliminate masculine and feminine personalities must be resisted. An androgynous person would lack both the male and female capacity for intimacy. A man who sacrifices masculine virtue does not thereby acquire feminine virtue. Nor does a woman gain masculine virtue by losing her femininity. An effeminate man is not maternal, and a tomboyish woman is not paternal."
  A women who is graceful and peaceful is a refreshing woman to be around.  However, a woman who is abrasive, brash and confrontational is a troublesome and repulsive woman to be with. But we can learn something from Arwen and our grandmothers here.  It is fine for a woman to be able to confront where confrontation is needed, as long as she is generally a gracious and peaceful person. But, in the absense of those virtues, assertiveness and defiance mark her as a shrew. 
Similarly, as long as a woman is primarily a nurturing and caring person, it is not a mark against her to have a measure of ambition and drive. But a woman who places her goals and life pursuits above being a nurturing and caregiving wife and mother is not an attractive woman. 
When a woman demonstrates her possession of feminine virtues, she actually appears more beautiful 
(like we see in Arwen) and yes, like the ones we read about in the book "They Called Them Angels). Yes, I have seen women like this is real life.  This power isn't just in the fairy tales we read or see on a movie screen. 
A woman who shows kindness is beautiful. A woman who chooses her words carefully in order to preserve unity and tranquility reveals a lovely AND powerful spirit.   
But if a woman possess a greater degree of masculine virtues than feminine ones, it greatly inhibits her beauty, her polarity and her ability to bless the world the way she was meant to.   
When she is embraces who she is, she is a sanctuary.   
She is a place where the weary can find rest.  
I quietly pull pints and thank the Good Lord for creating women.


They Called them Angels: American Military Nurses Of World War 2


  1. A mother is a nurse, and more. It brought tears to my eyes to acknowledge the many times I've failed to be the nurturer, the sanctuary. Like St. Paul, I often cannot be the person I want to be. But I trust the Lord will continue to allow me to try.

    1. We try: we fail. We try harder. Some days it does not go well, but others......

  2. A lovely and inspiring story of women who LOVE above everything else and are prepared to take risks to provide that LOVE even if it may cost them their lives.

    With regards to:

    Military Medical Officers are a small and identifiable group who suffer the highest suicide rate of any identifiable group.

    You may recall the sad story of this in one of my family history tales.

    1. Yes. You get it. Love has many ways of being expressed. Being in the thick of it shows its true colours. My Southern Lady-friend will be pleased. And thank you for sharing your story in my private rooms.

    2. Here is the story for wider viewing :-)

      With regards to nurses my paternal grandmother was a nurse in the Skinningrove Miners Hospital. There were lots of accidents in the (ironstone) mines and therefore need for treatment. During my family history research I found that one of her close relatives had been killed in such an accident.

      I have a picture of her in a family photo that shows her in her nursing uniform with other nurses and two men. I was surprised to find a similar photo of her in a book entitled Around Loftus that I bought for background details of the area as part of my family history research. The photo caption in the book gives no details other than ‘Dr Donaldson and nurses from the Skinningrove Miners Hospital’.

    3. It has often crossed my mind that mines are like war zones. The dangers are ever present and the nurses are needed. Brovo CherryPie's grandma.

      One of my mum's sisters was a Nurse Capt in the British Army too.

  3. Oh, I'm sorry, I think I've stepped in the wrong room - no wait, it IS you, Amfortas!?! ;)

    Aw, with a lovely post about the particular brand of strength women possess :)

    Speaking of your Southern Lady, being a Southern lady myself, I bet she is familiar with the term "Steel Magnolia" (after the book and movie) - lots of Steel Magnolias exist in the military, and for life in general for that matter.

    There is a a book and movie with that title, which is a reflection of the female ability to "be there 'til the end' with the dying or wounded, regardless of how difficult it is to view or treat - because the suffering of injury is far worse for the victim to endure than any suffering we may feel with simply bearing witness to it.

    Thank you (and your friend, Southern Lady) for these thoughts today:)


    1. hahaha. Right room OK. I do like ladies, despite somehow getting a poor reputation and accusations that I do not. I discriminate.

      You raise a fine point about relative suffering. This aspect of the heart and soul though can be an equaliser.

  4. It always good chatting with you in the bayou:).

    1. We hairy Knights from European stock find great pleasure in swamp ladies, for some obscure reason that no-one has yet written about :)

    2. And, of course, you are very special to me. :)

  5. Aztec mythology has a kind of Valhalla, the gathering-place of warriors who have died in battle, and women who have died in childbirth. I wish, during a difficult birth, that I had not remembered this just then.

    My daughter, a public health nurse, wears a hoodie with the message "Nursing: Not a career - An Alternative Apocalyptic Lifestyle."

    1. Aztecs do not feature strongly in Anglophile legend. I wonder if their Valhalla is in the next village to the Viking one down there. I know there is a Hillary's one somewhere nearby to it.

  6. The words female and virtue - sadly an oxymoron today.

    1. Rarer, agreed. But look deep and broad. A virtuous lady wrote much of that and several virtuous ladies have added comment. Do not abandon Hope, sir. Have a fine Ale and let nothing ail thee.

  7. When men and women compete with one another, rather than existing in harmony, the world becomes chaotic and uncivilised.

    1. Indeed, Mr E. And when an harmonious family smiles to the camera on 'Antiques Road-show' some of us spot you :)

    2. Photo-bombing, was it ? Hahahaha

  8. This morning whilst I was browsing through a book that I haven’t looked at for some time I came across another related story that I think the Tavern Keeper and his customers might enjoy.

    Franja Hospital in Slovenia was a timber-built field hospital used by Slovenian resistance fighters during WWII. The hospital was named after Dr. Franja Bojc Bidovec, a lady physician who treated most of the wounded and who headed the institution from 1944 until the end of the war.

    You can read more about it in the link below.

    and you can see a short video about the hospital in the following link.

    1. Thank you. This adds greatly to the conversation.


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..