All Posts in Category: American Red Cross

Clara Barton and the American Red Cross

Many, many years ago, a clerk in the US Patent Office by the name of Clara Barton spent her time caring for the wounded soldiers during the American Civil War. She was also a key player in locating thousands of soldiers who were classified as “missing,” and became known to all as the “Angel of the Battlefield” for her selfless and never-ending work. Once the war ended Ms. Barton had the opportunity to visit Europe and learned about a movement called the Red Cross and the Geneva Convention, a program that treated many of the wounded soldiers. It was expanded later on to include civilian war veterans and also prisoners of war.

Upon her return to America, Barton began to lobby the US government in hopes of ratifying the Geneva convention. She accomplished this goal in 1882. Before that, in 1881, Barton had founded the American Red Cross and was the leader until she retired at the age 83. Under her leadership the American Red Cross was significantly involved in disaster relief, responding to many areas that needed assistance, particularly flood, tornado, forest fire, and hurricane stricken areas. An epidemic of yellow fever was another of the causes that the Red Cross responded to. When she retired, the American Red Cross had only a few thousand widespread members, but grew exponentially over the next few years.

US community allience

U.S. Government Alliance

By forming a relationship and alliance with the US government, and by informing potential volunteers that it was considered their “patriotic duty,” membership continued to grow rapidly.  Once World War I ended the membership had swelled to well over 32 million, 11 million of those members being comprised of children and young adults. Joining the Red Cross was considered so important to the war effort that a public official in Wisconsin was tried and convicted under the Espionage Act because he considered the members to be “nothing but a bunch of grafters,” among other things. Apparently, not everyone was enamored of the newly formed American Red Cross.

In present times, offering assistance to wartime service and disaster relief remain the prime focus of the organization. The mission of the Red Cross is to educate every man, woman, and child about health and safety procedures, and to offer support for families who have military members. Blood donation is also a top priority for the Red Cross, and they hold Blood Drives in most communities a few times each year. Volunteers are urged to donate their blood and to recruit as many donors as possible so supplies never run out. Blood is one of the most important components in any disaster relief effort, and the Red Cross is determined to have the supplies remain as high as possible at any given time.


Volunteering for the Red Cross

Working or volunteering for the Red Cross is not without its drawbacks, and at times the Red Cross has been the target of criminal acts. Several masked men shot and killed six Red Cross aides in 1996 when they were assisting in a Chechen hospital compound. Attacks of a similar nature occurred again in the 90’s and early in 2000 in Bosnia, Somalia, Burundi, and Somalia even though international law makes it illegal to target humanitarian workers. Unfortunately, the condition of this world make it an almost impossibility to guarantee the safety of the Red Cross workers in hostile countries. You can be assured, however, that people will still line up to become members and volunteers in the American Red Cross. It is an organization that continues to reach out to disaster-stricken areas, offering support and resources whenever needed.

I’m sure every man, woman, and undoubtedly some children have heard of the Red Cross in America, but I wonder if everyone actually knows what that Red Cross symbolizes, or what the organization does?

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About Your American Red Cross

I’m sure every man, woman, and undoubtedly some children have heard of the Red Cross in America, but I wonder if everyone actually knows what that Red Cross symbolizes, or what the organization does? Until I started to research the American Red Cross, I knew some, but not all of the facts associated with this all-encompassing group of dedicated volunteers who step in any time disaster strikes. I have even donated a time or two, but other than that gave little thought to the power behind the group.


Blood Drives 


You probably already know about the blood drives that are conducted in your community, and you may have donated your own blood to the cause. But did you know that over 4 million people line up each year to donate? And that these donations account for over 40% of the blood supply in America alone? Imagine that! I must say that these facts really surprised me. I knew the figures were high, but 40%? That’s a lot of blood being given, isn’t it? Of course, since I am curious by nature, I decided to delve a little further into gathering information about the Red Cross.


Great Response Rate to All Disasters

I found that this group responds to all disasters, not just the really big ones that warrant television news coverage. If there is a fire in a local community, the Red Cross steps up to offer their assistance in any way they can. Providing meals, helping to relocate victims who have lost their homes, making sure families stay together and have food, clothing, and shelter until they can get back on their feet. I did not know it was the Red Cross that made all this possible! So, maybe you are thinking that this is not such a “big deal.” Or that there are lots of groups that step in to assist these people. In actuality, no group is as large as this one or has as many volunteers, or has such a long history of helping those who have been affected by disasters.


Relief agencies like the American Red Cross say monetary donations give them the greatest flexibility to address victims’ needs.

For instance, I did not know the Red Cross has been in existence since 1881. Or that it had been founded in Washington by someone named Clara Barton. Oh, I had heard the name, but quite obviously missed the connection. She led the organization for 23 years, and successfully campaigned for ratification of the Geneva Convention that protected the servicemen who were injured during wartime. She achieved that goal in 1882. Under her guidance the US conducted their first overseas disaster relief efforts. Amazing woman, yes?



Now, please don’t think that I am preaching about the Red Cross organization – that is not the purpose of this blog! I just want to bring some of the lesser known facts to the attention of those who may not fully understand what this wonderful group does. I know that I learned quite a bit that I didn’t know, even though I thought I knew all about the group. I guess I always assumed that the only time they stepped in was after a huge natural disaster-like a flood, hurricane, or tornado. Wrong on all counts, and I admit it. So, I think I am going to try to learn a little more about this organization that so willingly provides disaster relief to help so many people in light of any tragedy that could possibly happen. So, yes, you can look forward to reading more about the Red Cross in America in my upcoming blogs. Hope you enjoy it!


I’m sure every man, woman, and undoubtedly some children have heard of the Red Cross in America, but I wonder if everyone actually knows what that Red Cross symbolizes, or what the organization does?

Read More