NEW YORK NURSE: August 2012
by Winifred Z. Kennedy, MSN PMH-CNS, BC
You may not remember Febb Ensminger Burn. A widow who lived on a farm in Mouse Creek, Febb wound up playing an important part in United States history when she wrote a letter to her son urging “Don’t forget to be a good boy….” Her son Harry, a 24 year old first term representative in the Tennessee Legislature, had his mother’s letter in his pocket on the day that his “one vote” made history as the deciding vote that made Tennessee, the final state needed to ratify the 19th Amendment to the Constitution giving women the right to vote. Initially he had voted to table the vote; but, when the amendment came to the floor, he recalled his mother’s advice and voted in favor of the resolution giving women the in the United States the right to vote.
Both Febb and her son Harry are heroes. Febb is an example of a strong woman who used her voice to share her views with her son and to urge him to vote while she could not vote herself. We remember Harry for voting his conscience, and doing the right thing despite criticism from his colleagues and the public. There are also unsung heroes in history whose votes are important but perhaps not as successful. Adolf Hitler became head of the National Socialist Nazi party after a vote of 553 to one. That anonymous one negative vote may not have prevented Adolf Hitler from gaining control of the party and starting on a path of destruction. However, that one negative vote, standing in solitary witness, gives us hope that at least one person had the courage of their convictions to cast their vote against tyranny and the eventual devastation associated with Hitler. History may not remember the name of that one negative vote and that person may have never seen positive response to their effort, but eventually others had the courage to follow that example to not blindly accept Hitler’s program.
Our multipurpose nurses association is entering a period when we will all have the opportunity to have our voice heard. There have been times in the past when only a fraction of the membership took advantage of their voice and voted in elections. Let us make a difference this time and get out the vote. The future of our association, its mission and vision, will be decided upon by those elected to leadership roles.
One by one we will be asked to vote for the candidates for their various offices. One by one we will decide who we want to represent us over the coming years. One by one the votes will be counted. If your vote is not there, you will have forfeited your voice to make a difference and decide the direction that your nurses association will take. Throughout history, gender and ethnic minorities have fought hard to win the right to vote and to keep it. Will history remember your vote and the stand that you take? Or will you miss the opportunity to vote and let others take that responsibility, and your voice, from you? Take a stand. Show your convictions. Encourage others to vote, and make sure you send back your own ballot.