Nurse Honor GuardWhite roses are placed on a casket or adjacent to an urn. The nurses of the Guard state the nurse’s name and ring a triangle three times.

Zane Wolf, PhD, RN

The Nurse Honor Guard recognizes nurses who died at their funerals or memorial services. Compared to a military tribute, the ceremony releases nurses from their nursing duties (Final Call to duty). Nurses of the Guard wear what was traditional dress: white uniforms, capes, and caps.

The ceremony can be compared to a transition ritual. The Nightingale Tribute or poem (She was There) is read (Jaeger, n.d.) and changed as gender appropriate. White roses are placed on a casket or adjacent to an urn. The nurses of the Guard state the nurse’s name and ring a triangle three times. A nurse colleague or friend can also present the Tribute (American Nurses Association [ANA]. n.d.).

The Kansas State Nurses Association developed the Nightingale Tribute in 2003. Over 220 chapters in the United States provide the ceremony when invited (Theresa Conejo, personal communication, January 24, 2024). Nurses may be honorary pall bearers at services. Members of the Nurse Honor Guard of Bucks County also provide Living Tributes for nurses at the end of life in a hospice. A National Nurse Honor Guard Meeting was held in May 2024 at the St. Elizabeth Training Center, Erlanger, KY (Theresa Conejo).

The ANA also sanctioned The Nightingale Tribute at the 2005 House of Delegates. ANA approved the tribute in recognition of nurses who died. Nurses’ names are read and a white rose and white candle are placed before the dais at each Membership Assembly. Also, nurses’ names are recoded in a Nurses in Memoriam book. The lit candle is extinguished when the Assembly adjourns.

The idea of the Nurse Honor Goard and the Nightingale Tribute originated when a nurse’s years of service were not acknowledged at her memorial. Since the Kansas State Nurses Association creation of the Tribute, nurses’ way of life and service are recognized.

References

American Nurses Association. (n.d.). Kansas State Nurses Association: The Nightingale Tribute: Remembering a Nurse [Brochure].

Kansas State Nurses Association. (2003). The Nightingale Tribute: Remembering a Nurse.

https://www.nursingworld.org/~49c9ef/globalassets/docs/ana/nightingale/nightingale_brochure_kansasstatenursesassociation.pdf

Jaeger, D. (n.d,). The Nightingale Tribute. A tribute to departed colleagues. American Nurses Association.

American Nurses Association. (2022). The Nightingale Tribute. A tribute to departed colleagues.

https://www.nursingworld.org/~49f09c/globalassets/docs/ana/nightingale/2022-nightingale-tribute—final.pdf

Office and Professional Employees International Union, Nurses Council. (n.d.). The Nurse Honor Guard. Accessed January 24, 2024.

https://www.opeiunursescouncil.org/NursesHonorGuard.aspx#:~:text=OPEIU%20Nurses%20Council%20%3E%20Nurses%20Honor,nurse%20from%20their%20nursing%20duties

National Nurses Honor Guard Coalition (FaceBook)