Monday, May 21st: Happy Birthday American Red Cross! Today is AMERICAN RED CROSS FOUNDERS DAY, celebrating the Red Cross’s organization in 1881.

Clara Barton is a name synonymous with nursing (at least if we remember our history classes). She seemed to always have a passion for being a nurse. It’s reported that she took care of her dog when he hurt his leg. But the best example is about her brother, David Barton. When Clara was 11, David was fixing the barn roof and fell off. According to wickipedia, “The doctor said that he would die within a matter of time. But young Barton was determined to save him. She nursed him back to health. The doctors didn’t know how she did it, but David knew that she had a gift.”

Clara was a schoolteacher and she moved to Washington at the outbreak of the Civil War. She distributed relief supplies to wounded soldiers and, at the request of President Lincoln, aided in searching for missing men. Later, she helped in hospitals in Cuba during the Spanish-American War and in Europe during the Franco-German war.

In 1869, during her trip to Geneva,Switzerland, Barton was introduced to the Red Cross and Henry Dunant’s book, A Memory of Solferino, which called for the formation of national societies to provide relief voluntarily on a neutral basis.

Returning to the United States, she started a movement to gain recognition for the International Committee of the Red Cross by theUnited Statesgovernment. Working on this project since 1873, she finally succeeded during the administration of President Chester Arthur, using the argument that the new American Red Cross could respond to more crises than just war.

With Clara as president of the newly formed American branch, they held its first official meeting at her I Street apartment inWashington DC May 21, 1881. The first local society was founded August 22, 1881 in Dansville, Livingston County, New York, where Clara maintained a country home.

Red Cross … celebrate life, celebrate those who help save lives. Can you donate, volunteer or donate blood today?

December 2019
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