He was a Nurse— also a self-taught Journalist, Brilliant Essayist and Poet Extraordinarie | OP-ED
“Call me Walt Whitman, a former Camden Resident and also the most universal of all Americans...”
I knew the story because Dean Antonia Villarruel, the leader in charge of the number one School of Nursing in U.S., located here in Philadelphia, told me years ago about it in a Roundtable conversation in AL DÍA’s office on Market Street, not far away from Penn’s Ivy League campus.
She shared with me how the man who wrote “Leaves of Grass,”, the book of Poetry written in North America for the ages, and falso or the whole globe — that generations have read for the past 140 years in more than 100 written languages of this rich, diverse and beautiful universe — was also just a humble and caring nurse, tending to the wounded, dying and suffering after he most devastating armed conflict this great country of ours has endured.
His compassion led him to meet thousands of sick or wounded soldiers — from the North, and also from the South — during an internal armed conflict that left almost 100,000 human beings maimed in the carnage of battle. Here, in nearby Gettysburg, was the bloodiest of all, matching all the gifts and leadership capabilities of 2 military giants, General George Gordon Meade, born in the City of Cadiz, Spain, and General Robert E. Lee, "Marble Man", born in Stratford, Virginia.
More than 53,000 men under their command were killed in only three days, in a hot Summer of 1863, from July 1st to July the 4th, with men facing each other, face-to-face, in hand-to-hand combat, with bayonets in tow, and marching forward at each other until the clash left on the ground a myriad of dead bodies in barely one or two square miles of Pennsylvania countryside that received more corpses than the number of those killed in the large battlefield of Vietnam, over 10 long years, of that other U.S. War from the 1960s, exactly 100 years later.
In his famous "Gettysburg Address", memorialized by America in multiple ways, former President Abraham Lincoln elevated the human confrontation to an eternal epic battle for freedom, where, he said, "we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
"...The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion..."
That was our greatest President, Mr. Abraham Lincoln, speaking on November 19th, 1863, here from the Keystone State of Pennsylvania.
This week, on May 26th, 2021, we are celebrating #ALDÍATopNurses, an annual event and annual edition due next week AL DÍA News Media have been hosting for the past three years, taking our own heroes —and, more frequently, heroines— serving loyally in the nursing profession — which was just one of the original professions by Poet Extraordinary, Mr. Walt Whitman, the resident of Camden who was also a self-taught journalist, brilliant essayist and world-wide known and admired American Poet.
We salute you, Nurses, and take our Whitman hats off our heads in your honor.
Keep up the good work!