Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day

This photo was taken yesterday at the National Cemetery, which was also the site of the Confederate Prison during the Civil War. My father is buried here, and two great uncles, and several nurses I'd worked alongside during my long career.

But when the photo was taken, I was thinking about a particular co-worker of mine who is buried on the second row. She was a navy nurse during the Vietnam War, and I've been remembering something she told me about that time.

She was assigned to a hospital in New York -- New York City, I think. My memory is hazy as to the name of the hospital and the exact locale. I do recall her saying that because of the location, the hospital often had "celebrity visitors" whose mission it was to chit-chat with the patients and raise morale. They came to the hospital, but not to the ward where she was working. Her patients were young men who had been severely disfigured by burns and explosions and high-powered weapons. Their wounds were considered too shocking, too hideous and upsetting for that kind of public relations visit.

But there were two, she said, who came anyway. Two. In all the time she was assigned there. And their visits meant more to those young men than they would ever know.

Who were they?

Patty Duke and Grace Kelly.

One navy nurse never forgot what a kind and powerful and far-reaching thing they did -- and neither will her old co-worker.

That's it for this time...


Wendy said...

Somehow I'm not surprised that it ended up being Patty Duke and Grace Kelly. Two ladies both made of pretty stern stuff.

Cheryl said...

I was surprised, Wendy. I never even considered that the two would be women. (I'm ashamed of my lack of gender loyalty, but there you are.)

I confess I expected them be men, someone like Bob Hope himself and possibly a male star who had gone with him on his Vietnam USO tours. Or maybe two entertainers who were also war veterans.

This time it was very good to be wrong.

Liz Flaherty said...

I'm so glad you told that story, but like Wendy, I'm really not surprised by it.