“I would have done it for anyone. We are all children of God.”
Christmas of 1944 was memorable for Augusta Chiwy because her visit to Bastogne, Belgium coincided with an attack by 200,000 German soldiers.
This would have troubled anyone’s holiday, especially someone’s whose mother was from Central Africa. But this did not stop Ms. Chiwy, a nurse, from heroically tending wounded Americans during the Battle of the Bulge.
As her Washington Post obituary recounts, not all patients shared her grace:
One man… suffered from severe frostbite and asked [U.S. Army physician Dr. Jack] Prior not to allow the black nurse to touch him.
“Fine,” Prior replied… “Die, then.”
Ms. Chiwy’s extraordinary service was almost lost to legend until it received recognition late in her life. The commander of the 101st Airborne Division’s “Bastogne Brigade” told her in 2011:
Ma’am, you embody what is best and most kind in all of us… There are men and women in America who would never have a father or grandfather if you hadn’t been there to provide them basic medical care.
After their first Christmas together, she and Dr. Prior would regularly exchange Yuletide greetings, with which Ms. Chiwy would include Belgian chocolates.
Vocabulary we learn from this obituary includes:
to minister, unremitting, besieged, beleaguered, trauma, and intimate.