What a beautiful name she had, Florence Nightingale. She was christened Florence in honor of the majestic Italian city where she was born to British parents. Her surname, Nightingale - what we also call one nature´s sweetest songbirds- is said to originate in medieval England,
where it was given to people with a beautiful singing voice. I write this on May 12th in the Year of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Florence Nightingale was born exactly 200 years ago today. This is also International Nursing Day. Florence Nightingale is considered the mother of modern nursing. I´ve been thinking about Florence Nightingale today. I´ve been thinking of her name and her life. Florence, Italy, one of the great art and cultural capitals of the world, is also the birthplace of three of my most admired figures in art and poetry: the painter Botticelli, the sculptor Donatello and the poet Dante Alighieri. Florence Nightingale didn´t create beauty with brushes, colors and canvasses, chisel and stone or words. But her life itself was like a work of art, with Botticelli´s colors, Donatello´s forms carved out of stone and Dante´s poetry. It was also filled with the song of the nightingale. This morning, I´ve been listening to Vera Lynn sing a beautiful old English love song, ''A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square.'' Vera Lynn was England's nightingale during the worst days of World War Two. It was a time of darkness, when it seemed that the Nazis would crush Britain, Europe's last remaining bastion of freedom. The German air raids over British cities and the battlefield defeats of the British Army in continental Europe were taking a toll on life and morale. But Vera Lynn's songs, just as much as Winston Churchill's oratory, instilled hope and inspired the fighting spirit of the British people. Eventually, the war against the Nazis was won. We have just commemorated the 75th Anniversary of VE Day, Victory in Europe. I believe that it's just as important that Vera Lynn recently celebrated her 103rd birthday. In another time, there would have been public ceremonies to mark the anniversaries of VE Day, Vera Lynn's birthday, the International Nurses Day and Florence Nightingale's bicentennial. But we are in the midst of another war against an unseen enemy that has forced much of humanity to fight by isolating itself. In my case, I draw hope from the heroism of the front line warriors, the first responders and medical personnel, and on this day, especially the nurses, who are risking their own lives to save the lives of others, as Florence Nightingale did. And somehow, I see that heroism as a form of art. Art is a reflection of the soul, without which there is no true definition of life.
Yes. I've been thinking about Florence Nightingale and about what a beautiful name she had and how her very life was a work of art, with colors, forms, poetry and music. I'm convinced we're going to win this war.