Walt Whitman was born in the early 1800s on Long Island. During the Civil War, Walt Whitman’s brother was hospitalized in Washington DC. When Whitman came from New York to see him, he was already passionate about the Union’s cause. Seeing wounded soldiers in DC, he decided to become a volunteer nurse for the hospital. During his time there, he visited many soldiers, helped them compose letters home, and brought them little gifts. His dedication and kindness brought joy and peace to soldiers who were far from home and had no relatives or friends nearby.
His support for wounded soldiers and his need to write about their cause can be see in Not Youth Pertains to Me: “I have nourish’d the wounded and sooth’d many a dying soldier,/ And at intervals waiting on in the midst of camp,/ Composed these songs.”
Check out Poetry for Young People – Walt Whitman for more facts about this amazing writer and his support and compassion for soldiers and their families. This book is idea for children 9 and up.
Activities for Parents and Teachers
Learn about the branches of the military and ways we can help soldiers and veterans through various nonprofits.
We hear a lot about what bystanders can do when they see bullying. Some effective ways are simple: 1) ask someone if they want to hang out or 2) change the subject when gossip starts. Whitman’s poems and his time as a volunteer nurse are great examples of the power that simple acts of kindness can have on others. He wanted wounded soldiers to know that they were appreciated and had a friend to help them.
Questions for Journaling or Discussion
What is one small act of kindness you can do to help others in your community today?
Has anyone in your family served in the military? What do you know about their service and those that helped them, if they were injured?