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.

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