World War I Centennial Remembrance : One nurse’s pivotal contributions

A century ago, unrest in the Balkens lead to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinard and his wife which triggered the onset of World War I. The execution of a British Nurse resulted in a call to arms world wide and brought the United States into the war. Edith Cavell, the daughter of an Anglican priest and head of a Belgian Hosptial and Nursing School, was found guilty of espionage for rescuing Allied soldiers. She was executed by the Germans. Kaiser Wilhelm II said, “Executing Edith Cavell was the worst thing I did in this war.” The killing of this forty-nine year old nurse captured the hearts of thousands of Allied soldiers who joined the war to avenge her death. “If she can die like a man, so can we,” they said. It then influenced the opinion of Americans and put into motion a chain of events that brought our country into the battle. Her story is as contemporary today as it was then. It ignites passion in all who hear it. It teaches us about sacrifice, dedication, determination, devotion, honor, courage, perseverance, and a sense of doing what is right in the face of adversity. It is testament to her unwavering faith in God and love of humanity.

Over eighty-five registered memorials in eleven countries have been placed in her honor. One is a forty-five foot statue carved in her likeness in the heart of London. She is even memorialized in the heavens with a star named after her. Edith never wanted to be a hero, saying she was only doing her duty as a nurse; but her words that “Patriotism is not enough,” is carved on statues, embossed on coins, and printed on postcards, and posters. Despite her sacrifice and contributions, there is scarcely a person who recognizes her name. The WWI theme is now being memorialized all over the world. Should you decide to bring Ms. Arthur to your hospital to celebrate your nurses during Nurses’ Week 2016, attendees will be treated to a first hand experience of the author’s unique understanding of the most famous stories of Nurse Cavell’s contributions to that war. It will be an event the attendees will be talking about for some time.


Arthur is probably the most uniquely qualified American to tell the story of Edith Cavell. She did extensive research that included four trips to the UK and two to Belgium. She is the only American and the only nurse in any country to have written a book about Miss Cavell. “Fatal Decision, Edith Cavell WWI Nurse,” was published in November, 2011. Since then, Arthur has given presentations on the topic at historical societies, colleges, hospitals, women’s associations, literary groups, military groups, churches, hospitals and nursing associations. Her book has been featured in newspapers, magazines, nursing publications, and on public radio and TV. It has received glowing reviews from critics nationally and as far as Australia and India. Amazon rates her book with 5 stars. Since the death of Edith Cavell in 1915, Arthur is the first American to have been invited to participate in the memorial ceremonies in both Norwich and London where she is known as “The American Cavellite.” She was invited to participate in the memorial activities every year since 2013, including the 100-year memorial in 2015.


Edith Cavell's Memorial Service, 2014