Florence Nightigale.

"Be a lady dear. That's what we want! " How many times pretty young Florence Nightingale heard these words from her father and mother! But for her, being a lady was not enough. She wanted to do something for others.

Florence's father was a very rich man. Florence took lessons in music and drawing, and read great books. She could speak French, German, and Italian as well as English. And she travelled a great deal with her mother and father.

As a child she felt that visiting sick people was both a duty and a pleasure. She enjoyed helping them. As often as she could, she visited hospitals in others countries. She saw so much suffering that she knew she must help.

At last her mind was made up: "I'm going to be a nurse," she decided.

"Nursing isn't the right work for a lady," her father told her.

"Then I will make it so," she smile. And she went to learn nursing in Germany and France. When she returned to England, Florence, started a nursing home for women. Here she did everything from washing floors to giving her patients new hope.

During the Crimean War in 1854 many soldiers were wounded or became ill. News reached England that they were receiving very little care. At once Florence Nightingale wrote to the War Office and offered her services. She went with a band of thirty-eight nurses to the hospitals at Scutari.

What they saw there was even worse than they expected. Dirt and death were everywhere to be seen and smelled. The officer there did not want any women to tell him how to run a hospital, either. But the brave nurses went to work.

Florence used her own money and some from friends to buy clothes, beds, medicines, and food for the men. Her only pay was in smiles from the lips of dying soldiers. But they were more than enough for this kind woman.

She fell dangerously ill herself, but she did not stop working. Her thin hands worked day and night. Even in the last hours of night she could be seen walking with a lamp past each bed. The soldiers often kissed her shadow as "the lady of the lamp" went by.

After the war she returned to England and was honoured for her services by Queen Victoria.

But Florence said her work had just begun. She raised money to build the Nightingale Home for Nurses in London, and she asked young girls to learn nursing there.

She also wrote a book on public health, which was printed in several countries.

Florence Nightingale died at the age of ninety, still trying to serve other through her work as a nurse. Indeed, it is because of Florence Nightingale that we honour nurses today.