Memorial Day Weekend: Thanks to the Nurses Who Served

By Jacob Molyneux, senior editor/blog editor

AJN wishes all of our U.S. readers (and everyone else too) a safe, restful Memorial Day weekend, whether you are driving to the shore or the hills, staying put and having a barbeque, finishing a dissertation, running a 10K, working all weekend in the emergency department, gardening, or binge-watching episodes of a TV show on Netflix (you know who you are).

And lest we forget: a heartfelt thanks to all nurses, present and past, who are or have served in the military in any capacity, in some cases losing their lives as they tried to save other lives and heal the wounded. And to their families.

I’m going to leave off the photo of the military cemetery this year, those sobering stark white rows on manicured lawns. For some reason, it seems better this time to look inside and find one’s own image for the weekend that memorializes the dead even as the fluttering flags and the soft new leaves on the trees herald a kind of start to the fleeting summer season. I still remember the parade that started downtown in our small New England town and passed our house almost a mile later, the rolling sound of the drums getting nearer for a long time, the old guys in various uniforms passing by. Maybe there were nurses too in uniform.

We’d join the kids circling behind on bicycles as the parade went along the final stretch to the cemetery across from my grandparents’ house, turned slowly in, and marched on until it came to a stop near the center. A hush would fall then in the cemetery with its tall trees. There were no cell phone cameras. There was nothing to break the quiet. No one was sending or getting texts. No one had earbuds in. Even as kids we knew it meant something, that silence, and we knew enough to respect it, no matter what we believed or where we came from or were headed.

2016-11-21T13:04:43+00:00 May 23rd, 2014|career, nursing perspective|4 Comments

About the Author:

Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.


  1. Brent Thompson PhD RN May 27, 2014 at 10:45 am

    There seems to be a lot of confusion about the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day in the US. Perhaps because so many veterans are involved with Memorial Day activities?

    There have been over 1.5 million men and women who died while in service to the country since its founding.

  2. Jacob M May 27, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Thanks so much for the clarification. It’s a distinction worth making. There are indeed nurses who have lost their lives while serving, and many more who served and did not lose their lives.

  3. Brent Thompson PhD RN May 24, 2014 at 8:22 am

    As a veteran and a nurse I appreciate the sentiment but please remember that Memorial Day honors those who died while in military service. Veterans Day is the day we honor all who served.

    This Memorial Day lets all pause a moment from our picnics and fun to remember those who died in service to our country.

  4. Margaret Gallagher, RN, BSN May 23, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    As a nation, we’re called to remember those (especially the nurses) who served; that observance is officially on Veteran’s Day. Memorial Day is for remembering those who not only served but lost their life doing so; appreciating their sacrifice, as well as the sacrifice of the family and friends who miss them the most.

Comments are moderated before approval, but always welcome.