Nightingale Tribute Ceremonies
The Society of Air Force Nurses (SAFN) is an incorporated 501 (c) (19) Veterans organization with approximately 1500 members. Membership includes Registered Nurses who currently serve or who have served for any length of time either in the USAF Nurse Corps (Active Duty/AF Reserve/Air National Guard) or as World War II USA Air Corps Flight Nurses. There are seven regions that include members in the United States and around the world. The East Central Region (ECR) tries to attend the burial service of any former Air Force nurse or WW II USA Flight Nurse at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC).
In 2016 in all seven SAFN Regions, SAFN members started offering to the family the opportunity to have the Nightingale Tribute Ceremony conducted at the memorial or at the graveside program for its members in recognition for their years of service to their country.
The Nightingale Tribute was designed and developed by the Kansas State Nurses Association in 2003 to be used to honor deceased nurses. Any part or all of the Nightingale Tribute may be used during the ceremony. “She/He Was There” was copyrighted by Duane Jaeger, MSN, RN in 2004 as the author of the poem.
The Nightingale Tribute Ceremony begins with a short synopsis of the nurse’s career to include their military and civilian nursing experiences (if that information is available to us); it is usually no longer than five minutes in length. This includes the creative reading of the poem, “She/He Was There,” by the nurses in attendance. White flowers are placed on the casket (if not flag draped) or next to the urn after the reading of the poem.
In 2013, the National Capital Chapter of the East Central Region of SAFN starting using the Nightingale Tribute Ceremony at the graveside service for Air Force nurses being interred at Arlington National Cemetery. In 2016, the other six regions of the Society started using the Nightingale Tribute at graveside or memorial services for deceased Air Force nurses in their regions.