The American Red Cross

I am extremely busy again working on the project but this is an organization I feel strongly about and I hope you all will consider taking a class from them if you haven’t already. You never know when you might need this training.

Welcome back.  This week the pictures told the story. The wounds ranged from bruises to several cuts and fractures. Breathing emergencies along with heart related illnesses, snake bites and insect stings all demonstrated the need to be well prepared in an emergency.

Coming to the aid of an injured person is a natural thing to do and last Saturday the American Red Cross was the place to learn the right responses when instructor Tamier Lewis (no relation) gave another of her seminars on saving lives. The all day class teaches CPR and first aid techniques for many different emergencies as well as the dos and don’ts of helping choking, stroke and heart attack victims. Practicing with an Automated External Defibrillator, commonly known as an AED, was fascinating and after learning that 300,000 people die each year from sudden heart attack it was easy to understand how using the AED properly could save many lives. In recognition of this fact more and more businesses such as WalMart, and organizations like Elder Care, have AEDs handy and train their personnel to use them.

After this training my curiosity about the Red Cross’s organization and its many functions soon had the best of me and I went to their website ( to learn more.  I didn’t know that their international symbol, the Red Cross itself, is actually the reverse image of the symbol on the Swiss flag or that politics played an important in the founding of the Red Cross movement in America. Thanks to the efforts of a pioneering woman the Red Cross was chartered by Congress in 1900 and 1905, becoming known as the American National Red Cross and creating a close relationship between the organization and the federal government.  Her name was Clara Barton and the house where she was born and spent the last fifteen years of her life at 5801 Oxford Road in Glen Echo, Maryland is now a museum listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.

Barton began her career as a school teacher at a time when most teachers were men and later became one of the first women to gain employment in the federal government.

As a volunteer during the Civil War, she risked her own life bringing supplies and moral support to soldiers in the field. She read to the wounded, wrote letters for them and listened to their problems before praying with them. President Abraham Lincoln heard of her work and referred inquiries about missing soldiers to her. She worked with the Friends of Missing Men to establish the Office of Correspondence which answered over 63,000 letters and identified over 22,000 missing men in a four year period.

After the war Barton led a team of thirty military officers to the Confederate prison camp simply known as Andersonville where they identified the graves of nearly 13,000 men. She proposed that the almost 400 unidentifiable graves be memorialized and eventually her idea led to the creation of the “Tomb of the Unknowns”.

In the following years Barton traveled the world assisting with disaster relief in many different countries and becoming familiar with the Red Cross movement founded by Henry Dunant. In 1864, at the Geneva Convention, she pushed world leaders to include national disasters as part of the Red Cross’ mission and when it passed the amendment became known as the “American Amendment”.

At age sixty Barton established a branch of the Red Cross movement in the United States and led the organization for twenty-three years making strides in education, civil rights, prison reform and women’s suffrage as well as the care of the sick and wounded. Always rising early and working late, a highly trained speaker and a prolific writer, Barton possessed such great charm and charisma that wherever she went, no matter what country, thousands of volunteers followed.

Clara Barton resigned from the Red Cross in 1904 with the thought of writing a series of short biographies about her life but unfortunately these were never completed as she died on April 12, 1912. Her family donated all of her papers and awards to the Library of Congress, the Park Service manages her historic home and the American people take care of her beloved Red Cross. That my friends is the story of another great woman we all owe thanks to and till next week I’ll see ya down the road…..




                                                ll will consider

taking a course from them if you haven’t already.

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