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A walk down memory lane

Revisit the history of National Nurses Week

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Nurses Week is the result of an endeavor that began more than half a century ago. Here are some notable moments that brought us to our present-day celebrations, according to a timeline by the American Nurses Association.
Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare sends a proposal to President Eisenhower to proclaim a “Nurse Day” in October of the following year. The proclamation is never made.
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National Nurse Week is observed Oct. 11-16. The year of the observance marks the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s mission to Crimea. Rep. Frances P. Bolton sponsors a bill to establish a Nurse Week. Apparently, a bill for a National Nurse Week was introduced in the 1955 Congress, but no action was taken. Congress discontinues its practice of joint resolutions for national weeks of various kinds.
A resolution is presented by the House of Representatives for the President to proclaim National Registered Nurse Day. It does not occur.
In January, the International Council of Nurses proclaims May 12 as International Nurse Day. (May 12 is Florence Nightingale’s birthday.) The ICN continues to celebrate International Nurse Day.
In February, a week is designated by the White House as National Nurse Week, and President Nixon issues a proclamation.
New Jersey Gov. Brendon Byrne declares May 6 as Nurses Day. Edward Scanlan, of Red Bank, N.J., takes up the cause to perpetuate the recognition of nurses in his state. Scanlan has this date listed in Chase’s Calendar of Annual Events. He promotes the celebration on his own.
The ANA and various nursing organizations rally to support a resolution initiated by nurses in New Mexico, through Congressman Manuel Lujan, to have May 6, 1982, established as National Recognition Day for Nurses.
In February, the ANA Board of Directors formally acknowledges May 6, 1982, as National Nurses Day. The action affirms a joint resolution of the United States Congress designating May 6 as National Recognition Day for Nurses.
President Ronald Reagan signs a proclamation on March 25, designating National Recognition Day for Nurses to be May 6 annually.
The ANA Board of Directors expands the recognition of nurses to a week-long celebration, declaring May 6-12, 1991, as National Nurses Week.
The ANA Board of Directors designates May 6-12 as permanent dates to observe National Nurses Week in 1994 and in all subsequent years.
The ANA initiates National RN Recognition Day on May 6, 1996, to honor the nation’s registered nurses for their tireless commitment.
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