Augusta Chiwy was born in 1921 to a Belgian father and a Congolese mother. In December of 1944, Army surgeon Jack Prior asked her to help at an American field hospital near Bastogne, Belgium, as there was only one doctor, one dentist, and one nurse to care for around 50 soldiers wounded in the Battle of the Bulge. The 23-year-old nurse rose to the occasion, heroically treating horrific wounds under battlefield conditions.
With his hospital demolished, Prior moved to a bigger American military-aid station a half-mile away, where 600 wounded soldiers, many with gangrene, lay on a straw-and-dirt floor in what was once an indoor riding hall for cavalry practice. The handful of medics were utterly overwhelmed, so Chiwy joined them to do what she could. Besides, she adored Prior. Many of those soldiers were from the Deep South, and they recoiled from her, saying they didn’t want a black person touching them. Prior snapped back that they had a choice: be treated by Chiwy or be left to die.
The experience affected her so much that Chiwy went two years without speaking at all, and left nursing for twenty years. Augusta Chiwy died on August 23rd, 2015. Her story is one of 29 artists, innovators, and activists who died this past year who are profiled in the New York Times’ feature called The Lives They Lived. There are plenty of stories of people who should be remembered there. -via Digg
(Image credit: Embassy of the United States in Brussels, Belgium's official Facebook)