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Arlington Monuments and Arlington National Cemetery
Item 14 of 18
The Spanish-American War Nurses Memorial is a monument located in Arlington National Cemetery, installed on May 2, 1905. This monument, made of granite, was created to pay tribute to the nurses who died during the Spanish-American War, which took place in 1898. The Spanish-American War marked the first time that females served in any capacity in the United States Military; prior to this, military nurses were male. The monument resides in Section 21 of Arlington National Cemetery, the same section in which the Spanish-American War Nurses are buried.

  • Spanish-American War Nurses Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery
  • Close-up of the Inscription
Prior to the Spanish-American War, all nurses in the military were men, as the U.S. Military did not allow females to serve in any way. Furthermore, nursing was not a sought-after position in the military. At this time, there were only 791 male nurses serving in the Army, far too few for a war. Congress finally recognized that women needed to be hired to serve as nurses, however, they only approved their hiring through contracts- military nurses would not actually be military personnel. Congress gave the task of leading the recruitment effort to Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee. The largest group targeted by Dr. McGee was the D.A.R.- the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Out of the 1,563 nurses now working through contracts for the military, 76 were sent to Cuba, 30 to the Philippines, nine were sent to Puerto Rico, six to Honolulu, eight served on board the hospital ship USS Relief, but the vast majority worked in U.S. hospitals. Although none of the nurses died during combat, several did succumb to diseases such as typhoid and yellow fever. Several of the women who died while serving in the United States are buried close to the memorial in Arlington National Cemetery, although those few that died overseas are buried overseas as well.

In June of 1899, Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee was instrumental in the formation of the Order of Spanish-American War Nurses, in memory of the service of the contract nurses during the Spanish-American War. A monument to these brave women was planned, however it was not dedicated until 1905, due to several unforeseen problems. In 1901, the Secretary of War, Elihu Root, still hadn't approved the creation of the memorial, and fund-raising for the project was going at a very slow pace. Disagreements over design, size and style for the monument were also to blame. Finally, in 1905, Barclay Brothers Granite Company out of Barre, Vermont, was given the job of constructing the memorial.

The monument is six feet wide, three and a half feet across, and seven feet high, and is constructed out of gray granite, with a boulder shape and a rough texture. At the top sits a Maltese Cross, which is the symbol for the Order of the Spanish-American War Nurses, and the front of the memorial has several palm branches carved into the granite. The monument was dedicated on May 2, 1905, with a simple but meaningful ceremony. Officially, the monument is dedicated to "deceased Army nurses in the National Cemetery at Arlington, Virginia."
1. "Spanish–American War Nurses Memorial," last modified on April 20, 2015. 2. "Spanish-American War Nurses Monument,"