President Barack Obama has proclaimed “March is American Red Cross Month,” upholding a tradition that began nearly 70 years ago.
During the very first March proclaimed as Red Cross Month, America was embattled in war abroad and fighting its way out of economic turmoil at home. It was 1943 and many were struggling. Still, with mounting adversity, America came together in support of the humanitarian mission of the Red Cross. This support continues today.
“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,” states the 2012 Presidential Proclamation. “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.
It was just last March that an earthquake and tsunami struck without warning in Japan, causing tremendous loss and heartache. In the aftermath, the American Red Cross provided hundreds of millions of dollars toward relief and recovery efforts to help those affected. These efforts are helping to improve living conditions for families who lost their homes and to rebuild needed hospitals and a nursing school.
Read the one year update on Red Cross relief and recovery efforts in Japan here.
Not long after the horrific disaster in Japan, tornadoes hit, floodwaters crept higher and wildfires ignited here at home in one of the busiest spring seasons the Red Cross experienced in decades. Shelters were opened. Meals, water and supplies were delivered. And comfort was found in the embrace of Red Cross workers.
To learn more about our disaster relief efforts across the country, read the one year report here.
These tragedies at home and abroad, often strike with little warning. March is a reminder of the Red Cross mission to prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. While the Red Cross is most visible during times of disaster, the work continues year-round.
Every year, the Red Cross:
- Responds to nearly 70,000 disasters
- Teaches more than 4 million people how to prepare for disaster Engages more than half a million people as Red Cross volunteers
- Trains more than 9 million people in first aid, water safety and other skills to help save lives such as CPR and use of AEDs Collects 6.3 million units of blood from roughly 3.7 million volunteer donors
- Provides services to more than 400,000 military members, veterans and civilians
- Helps nearly 150 million people through disaster management and disease prevention activities
- Reconnects more than 1,000 families separated by war and disaster around the world
Since 1881, the Red Cross has provided lifesaving services across the country and around the world thanks to the generosity of the American public that has always reached into their own pocket to help their neighbor in need.
After President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared the month of March “Red Cross Month” in 1943, the Red Cross raised the largest amount ever aimed for in one campaign by any American organization. Roosevelt called it the “greatest single crusade of mercy in all of history.” Today, the American Red Cross continues to be that symbol of mercy, providing help and hope down the street, across the country and around the world.