Each year in May America celebrates National Nurses Week. The observance has its roots in the 1950s and has been celebrated in its current form since 1974.

It's appropriate every year to acknowledge the tremendous contributions nurses make to our health care. These dedicated people work around the clock to ensure people get the care they need. In the time of the global coronavirus pandemic, that's never been more true.

And that's why National Nurses Week this year has been extended to National Nurses Month.

Nursing is a special calling and nurses are special people. While most of us are being instructed to avoid anything that could expose us to the coronavirus, nurses and their colleagues are on the front line. They take on danger instead of fleeing it.

Thousands of nurses have contracted COVID-19 while on the job, and some have died. Despite this, their colleagues keep coming to work and do what's required. It's inspirational, frightening and heartwarming to see these remarkable professionals doing their essential work under almost unthinkable conditions and with their own health at risk.

For some the threat of bringing the disease home to their families has led them to isolate, meaning not seeing their family members for weeks.

"They have nothing on their mind except helping people and making people better," President Trump said. "It's incredible."

Today, there are about 3 million registered nurses in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and another 729,000 licensed practical nurses and 1.5 million nursing assistants. That is more than 5 million people doing the critical job of healing, helping and holding hands.

It takes a special kind of person to be able to do this job and we commend all those in the nursing profession. We urge readers to express gratitude toward nurses whenever they have the opportunity. Thank you seems inadequate. But thank you to all the nurses nonetheless

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