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Red Cross History of Service

As we take the time to reflect on the history of our country this Independence Day, I’d like to share a little American Red Cross history from our archives that we think is pretty interesting, and we hope you will, too! Since the Civil War, our founder Clara Barton made it a cornerstone of the Red Cross to be there for the American people, in the moments when they need it the most.

The Red Cross Motor Corps was founded for stateside service in 1918 and drove throughout World War I, transporting the sick and wounded, delivering supplies and ferrying Red Cross nurses to their posts. This group of dedicated women was 12,000 volunteers strong and drove over 3.5 million miles by the end of WWI. The service grew with the second World War, with 45,000 volunteers driving over 61 million miles by the end of 1947.

In 1917, the Red Cross sponsored sculptor Anna Coleman Ladd, whocreated ‘facial restorative masks’ for soldiers who had been injured or disfigured during the war. Ladd took casts of the soldiers' faces, custom created a mask to their specifications, and allowed them to return home as whole as possible.

Apart from wartime relief, the Red Cross has been responding to natural disasters since September of 1881, when we provided relief for those affected by a disastrous forest fire in Michigan. In 1960, a blizzard hit the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Red Cross volunteers who “knew their mountains” acted as spotters aboard Army helicopters, helping pilots navigate the snow-blanketed terrain to bring vital supplies to the communities below. As a humanitarian organization, we are proudly guided by the seven Fundamental Principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. These principles compel us to endeavor to provide services to anyone and everyone who need them in times of emergency. I’m grateful I get to work every single day in service of the American people with my colleagues here at the Red Cross. But I’m even more grateful for you -- we can only do this work with the support of our volunteers, donors and friends.

Staying in touch via the American Red Cross email list is the best way we have of keeping in regular contact with supporters like you, letting you know about how you can protect yourself and your loved ones from disasters and other emergencies, and how you can support our life-saving work. Click hereto unsubscribe from our list, but please know that if you leave, it will be harder for you to stay involved with the Red Cross and continue the work of which you’ve been such a critical part. It is only because of supporters like you that the Red Cross is able to respond when a disaster strikes or a home is impacted by fire, when someone needs CPR or a lifesaving blood transfusion, or when a family needs to contact a deployed service member in an emergency. And we don’t want to lose you! Thanks for your support!

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