Remembering the greatest sacrifice

“We cherish too, the Poppy red
Which grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.”
– Moina Michael

Around this time of year, you may see American Legion members distributing handmade red flowers, but may not know why. These are remembrance poppies, created and shared for Memorial Day to remind us of those who have fallen in war.

Memorial Day, celebrated on the last Monday in May, was created as a day to remember the approximately 620,000 troops who lost their lives during the Civil War. In 1971 it was declared a national holiday and was expanded to honor those who have died in all American armed conflicts, which has now totaled to over 1.1 million lives. It is for those 1.1 million lives that we pause to remember their sacrifice.

The American Red Cross pays tribute to those who have given their lives and works to aid the service members, veterans, and their family members within our communities. Our Service to the Armed Forces volunteers and staff work hard to provide services starting at the day of enlistment, on through their life journey.

After her humanitarian work during the Civil War, Clara Barton returned home to found the American Red Cross in 1881.

The Red Cross was founded as a response to the damages of war, standing firm to protect the rights and dignities of those who were casualties. This drive of humanity has remained at the core of the Red Cross through time as we never forgot those who fought and sacrificed. From this need to prevent and alleviate human suffering, the organization has grown to further serve the needs of our communities.

Today, the American Red Cross provides multiple assistances to our service members, veterans, and their families. We provide 24/7 global emergency communication services for military families, home comforts and community services, and community outreach to name a few. Our resiliency training workshops, taught by licensed and experienced instructors, are designed to help prepare for, cope with, and respond to the challenges of military service.

We would like to thank not only those who have volunteered their time to serve those who have served our country, but to all those who volunteer with the Red Cross; because of you we can combine our efforts to help those who need us. Most of all, we want to thank and honor those who gave the greatest sacrifice.

Post by Alex Smith, Services to the Armed Forces Director for the American Red Cross Minnesota Region. Photo of Clara Barton by Matthew Brady, c. 1865; now in the Collection of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; acquired through the generosity of Elizabeth A. Hylton. 

House of Cards: The Clara Barton Connection

by Carrie Carlson-Guest

Like so many others, I am obsessed with House of Cards, the political drama starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright as Frank and Claire Underwood.  No plot spoilers here I promise, just some thoughts about the connection between Frank and Clara. Clara Barton that is. I freely admit to watching multiple episodes in one sitting, complete with popcorn and fuzzy pajamas. And honestly, the weather lately has been rather conducive to Netflix marathons.

Part of the show’s popularity may stem from the references to real life events, issues, people and places. One of the episodes my husband and I watched last night, included a Civil War re-enactment at the Battle of the Wilderness.  On hand to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle, Frank is approached by one of the re-enactors who suggests one of Frank’s ancestors fought and died in the battle, with thousands of others.

What does this have to do with Clara Barton? She was at the Battle of the Wilderness. Before the Red Cross was even a formal organization, Clara Barton brought medical supplies and nursed wounded soldiers on Civil War battlefields, including during the Wilderness Campaign.  She, theoretically, could have comforted Frank Underwood’s great-great-great-grandfather and connected him to his family after his death.

Clara’s work during and after the Civil War became the first mission of the American Red Cross  – caring for the wounded and displaced and their families. More than 150 years later, the Red Cross proudly continues our Service to Armed Forces, supporting military members and their families, connecting them in times of crisis and by their side wherever they are around the world.

Check out this video for a great mini-history lesson on Red Cross SAF programs and services.  Then, if you haven’t already, check out House of Cards, but don’t tell me what happens after episode five of the second season.