Friday, March 15, 2013

Clara Barton and the American Red Cross

By: Stephanie Burkhart

March is "Red Cross" month, and I've always had a soft spot for the Red Cross. I first "really heard" of the Red Cross when I was 17 and a senior in High School. Having just discovered the story of Czar Nicholas II and his family, I was moved to the core of my soul when I discovered Nicholas' son, Alexis, had hemophilia. Shortly thereafter, the Red Cross came to my high school. High school seniors were eligible to give blood, and I gave my first donation without hesitation.

My involvement didn't stop there. When I was 18, I joined the US Army. After my training, I was sent to Germany for my first duty assignment. I learned that the Red Cross provided "verification" if a loved one died. They also offered "safety" courses, and during my deployment to Hungary, they offered moral support activities as well.

The Red Cross is a force when it comes to helping others, be it disaster relief, blood donations, or educational programs. The organization was born in Europe after Swiss businessman Henry Dunant witnessed the Battle of Sulferino in 1859 during the Franco-Austrian War.

American Clara Barton was born in 1821. She grew up with a passion for helping others. At 17, she became a teacher. In 1855 she moved to Washington DC and worked as a clerk in the US Patent Office. During the Civil War she was "the lady in charge" (per Union General Ben Butler) of the hospital at the front of the Army of the James. She faced danger bravely. While attending to a wounded soldier on the battlefield a bullet tore through the sleeve of her dress, killing the man she was attending to.

After the war, she toured America, giving speeches, meeting several influential women in the US suffrage movement, including Susan B. Anthony.  1869 proved to be a pivotal year for Clara. She traveled to Europe, Geneva, Switzerland, and discovered Dunant's book, "A Memory of Sulferino" which explained his reasons and motivation for starting the "International Red Cross." Barton was in Europe in 1870, during the Prussian/Franco War, and ventured to the front lines again. When the war ended, she was awarded with the German Iron Cross.

Upon her return to the US, Barton wanted to organize a "Red Cross." In America, surprisingly, there was no interest. Most Americans thought they'd never face another war like the Civil War. Barton was undeterred. Barton convinced President Chester A. Arthur that the Red Cross could be very useful responding to crisis' other than war. The American Red Cross was born. Barton held the chapter's first meeting in May 1881. Barton was dynamo, leading the American Red Cross first major relief effort – the Great Fire of 1881 in Michigan.
Clara Barton

During her tenure as the head of the American Red Cross, Barton traveled to Constantinople, Armenia, and Cuba. Her last field operation was helping the victims of a hurricane that struck Galveston in 1900. Conflicting accounts have her resigning in either 1901 or 1904 due to her advancing age and criticism of her management. Barton passed away in 1912 of tuberculosis. She was 90.

In America, March is also National Woman's Mouth, and Clara Barton is a woman whose life inspires. She inspired her contemporaries and her legacy lives on as the heartbeat of the American Red Cross. Even today, women (and men) can admire her bravery on the battlefield and her courage to defy her society's norms.

Question for you: Are there any historical women you draw inspiration from?

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 Dispatcher for LAPD. She served in the US Army from 1986-1997. She's married with two boys, is addicted to coffee and adores Lindt chocolates. Her latest book is "The Secret Door," Book 4 in the Budapest Moon Series.

Blurb: Can Zoltan save his witch from an evil werewolf with Sophia's help?

"The Secret Door's exciting action, paranormal elements, and romance will not disappoint a reader." - Joy Cagil, Amazon Reader
"I was quite pleased to find an original take on the werewolf mythology and was impressed by the author's choice of location and historical accuracy. The Secret Door is a fun read and is highly recommended." - 5 Stars, Jack Magnus, Reader's Favorite Reviews,

He looked her over seductively. His heart skipped a beat with desire. She rubbed the lotion into her hands and placed them on his stomach. He groaned, reaching out with his left hand and threading his fingers into her hair, jerking her head back so they were eye-to-eye. She set her jaw. His pulse pounded. Something intense flared between them, yet she kept her hands on his abdomen. Encouraged, Zoltan tugged her toward him, pressing her chest against his. Her nostrils flared and her brow furrowed in confusion.
He stopped, reminding himself he needed to offer a choice. "Do you want me to kiss you?"
"No." The sound of her denial was weak. He held her close.
"Do you want me to release you?"
"How should I solve my predicament?"
"I don't know."
"I do." He leaned close, her sweet fruity scent sending his senses into overdrive. He placed his lips on her jaw and kissed her.








Rose Anderson said...

Terrific post, Stephanie! Best luck.


Melissa Keir said...

I love Clara Barton. Along with Nancy Hanks, they were my favorite historical figures to read about as a child!

Ella M. Kaye said...

Sacagawea is up there on my list, as well as Juliette Gordon Lowe, Mother Teresa, and a few others, to include Laura Bush for the way she promoted literacy so widely and got so many reading festivals going both here and abroad.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Back in the 1950's there were these famous women dolls that I was into. I had several of them, but Clara Barton was my favorite. Isn't it amazing how huge the Amerian Red Cross has grown and all the wonderful things they do? I am in awe.
Lovely blog, Stephanie.

Jenny Twist said...

Another fascinating post, Steph. Made me realise how little I knew of the Red Cross.