I would like to take some time out and honor one of the many claims on the month of March as far as holidays are considered, American Red Cross Month. The American Red Cross was founded by Clara Barton and a circle of acquaintances in Washington, D.C. on May 21, 1881. Here is an excerpt from the American Red Cross’ official website that explains something very special that concerns this month: http://www.redcross.org/museum/history/marchis.asp
Each year the President of the United States proclaims March “Red Cross Month.” The American Red Cross uses this opportunity to promote its services to the American public and for fund-raising. How did this tradition come about?
For the first quarter century of its existence, the Red Cross held no regular fund-raising drives. Since Clara Barton created the organization in 1881, it was largely dependent for publicity and funds on the spontaneous support of people who learned of catastrophic events and the Red Cross response to them mainly through the newspapers and by word of mouth.
This rather haphazard manner of operating changed abruptly in 1917, when the United States entered World War I. After declaring war, President Wilson ordered the American Red Cross to raise funds to support its aid to the military as mandated by the Red Cross Congressional charter. In response, the Red Cross held its first national War Fund drive in June 1917 and set a goal of $100 million, an astoundingly large sum at the time. Under the circumstances, however, the public response was immediate and overwhelming. Within a few days more than $115 million was raised. Then in December 1917, the Red Cross held its first “Christmas Roll Call,” asking people to give at least $1 to join the organization’s membership rolls. This drive also proved highly successful, as did an additional War Fund drive and another Roll Call in 1918, the last year of the war.
After the war, the Red Cross decided to make the Roll Call an annual, late fall membership and fund-raising drive. In addition, it conducted special appeals from time to time in response to major disasters, such as the Dust Bowl drought of the early 1930s and periodic flooding on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.
In November 1941, with war in Europe, the Red Cross conducted a highly successful 25th Annual Roll Call. A few days later the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II. As it had done in the previous World War, the Red Cross responded immediately by declaring a War Fund campaign. By June 1942, it had raised more than $66 million.
Rather than go back to the public with a third appeal in one year, the Red Cross decided to cancel its 1942 Roll Call. Instead, after discussions with President Franklin Roosevelt, the honorary chairman of the Red Cross, the whole month of March 1943 was declared “Red Cross Month” and a goal of $125 million was set, the biggest amount ever asked for in one campaign by any American organization. Again, the response was overwhelming. It took less than six weeks to reach the target and by June 1943 donations totaled nearly $146 million. Roosevelt called it the ” . . . greatest single crusade of mercy in all of history.”
This success caused the Red Cross to repeat the March drive during the remaining years of the war and then to make it the occasion of its annual membership and fund-raising efforts ever since. (As a historical footnote, the last radio speech President Roosevelt gave, a few days before his death, was in support of the 1945 Red Cross campaign.) As part of the tradition, the President customarily issue a proclamation each year declaring March as Red Cross Month.
Now here is President Barack Obama’s proclamation, issued March 1st, 2012 found here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/01/presidential-proclamation-american-red-cross-month-2012
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
Presidential Proclamation — American Red Cross Month, 2012
AMERICAN RED CROSS MONTH, 2012
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
After more than 130 years of providing humanitarian relief at home and abroad, the American Red Cross remains a reflection of the compassion and generosity central to our national identity. At moments of profound need, the actions of men and women across our country reflect our noblest ideals of service — from search-and-rescue teams that brave disaster zones to ordinary citizens who deliver not only lifesaving care and supplies, but also hope for a brighter tomorrow. During American Red Cross Month, we pay tribute to all those whose dedication to relieving human suffering illuminates even our darkest hours.
A visionary humanitarian and unyielding advocate for those in need, Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881 after many years of tending to soldiers and families injured in war’s wake. In the generations that followed, the American Red Cross served as a force for peace and recovery during times of crisis. Presidents of the United States have called upon the American Red Cross time and again, beginning when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Red Cross Week during the First World War, and continuing into the 21st century.
Today, emergency response organizations like the American Red Cross continue to play a vital role in responding to disasters that cast countless lives and communities into harm’s way. When devastating storms struck cities spanning the Midwest to the Eastern Seaboard this past year, the American Red Cross and other relief organizations were instrumental partners in preparedness, response, and recovery. And when a devastating earthquake shook Japan’s Pacific coast, they answered by extending support to the people of Japan and standing with them as they rebuild.
We are reminded in times like these that the strength of our humanitarian response and the measure of our resilience are drawn not only from the committed action of relief organizations, but also from individuals who step forward, volunteer, or give what they can to help their neighbors in need. With generous spirits and can-do attitudes, Americans from every corner of our country have come together again and again to show the true character of our Nation. As we celebrate American Red Cross Month, let us resolve to preserve and renew that humanitarian impulse to save, to serve, and to build, and carry it forward in the year to come.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America and Honorary Chairman of the American Red Cross, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2012 as American Red Cross Month. I encourage all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities, and by supporting the work of service and relief organizations.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.
I hope you enjoyed this article, and look forward to hearing your comments!