Once a nurse, always a nurse, local nurses say, and a new, local organization, the Central Pennsylvania Nurses Honor Guard, provides a memorial service that recognizes a life spent caring for others.

Cindy Bowman is a Registered Nurse and the President/Founder of the Nurses Honor Guard, and Melissa  Mulhern serves as the treasurer and is also a Registered Nurse. The ladies talk about the beautiful ceremony they present to honor nurses who pass away, and how the chapter got started in our region.

If you or someone you know would like to have the Central PA Nurses Honor Guard do a service for a loved one who was in the nursing profession, speak at your event or participate in a community service / activity, you can contact them via Facebook or email @ CentralPaNursesHonorGuard@gmail.com.

Honor guard members dress in traditional white nurses uniforms, wear the traditional nursing cap and a navy blue cape lined in red. Honor guard members are all volunteers, pay for their own capes and nursing whites. The nursing cap is provided by the group as a token of appreciation.

The all-volunteer guard members help begin the healing process for grieving family members and recognize the sacrifices made by the family during a nurse’s career.

“When we officially relieve the nurse of his/her duties, it is such a heartwarming and soul-felt emotion to formally say goodbye and to thank them for their services,” she said. “I am beyond honored to belong to this group.”

If the family of a deceased LPN or registered nurse would like to have the honor guard at a memorial service, contact with Bowman can be made through the group’s Facebook page, or through the funeral director.

The honor guard’s services are free of charge. 

The service is customized to a family’s wishes but generally includes honor guard member processing to the front of the room with a Nightingale lamp and a single burning candle. Honor guard participants usually number four or five, Bowman said, and recite The Nurses Prayer, the Nightingale Tribute and speak of the fallen nurses service. A white rose is laid on the casket or next to the urn, which symbolizes the nurse’s dedication to the profession.

A final roll call is given, in which the decedent’s name is called three times, each accompanied by the ringing of a triangle or bell, and the nurse is officially released from her/his nursing duties. The lit Nightingale lamp is extinguished and presented to a family member.

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