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From the Archives: Clara Barton’s Office of Missing Soldiers

Just recently, the Red Cross history team toured the restored Clara Barton’s Office of Missing Soldiers at No. 9, 437½ 7th Street. The office is located in a former Washington, D.C., boarding house, where Clara Barton rented rooms during and after the Civil War.IMG_7770

While Clara provided relief to the Civil War wounded, she accumulated a wealth of information about the men and their regiments. In the final days of the war, she was responding to families inquiring about men who had been reported missing. Seeing a pressing need, Barton secured permission from President Abraham Lincoln to start an Office of Missing Soldiers. By 1869, she and her assistants had received and answered over 63,000 letters and identified more than 22,000 missing men.

That same year, in need of rest, Barton traveled to Europe. The boarding house owner stored Clara’s belongings in the attic above her rooms and they remained there, untouched, for over 120 years, until 1996. At the time, the building was slated for demolition, but the presence of Clara’s belongings and remnants of the Missing Soldier’s Office reset the course. After several years, restoration work began, managed by The National Museum of Civil War Medicine, headquartered in Frederick, Md. 

Visitors to the space enter a main floor lobby with an exhibit highlighting life in Washington, D.C., during the Civil War. Two flights of steps provide access to rooms carefully restored to the period when Barton lived and worked in the boarding house. Some special features include reproduction wallcoverings based on existing wallpaper found in the rooms. According to one of the tour guides, Clara wallpapered one of the walls herself.IMG_20131118_123953_711

Carpet fragments from the period were found in the attic, and inspired the reproduction runner on the stairs. The lighting resembles period gas lights—complete with the simulated flickering flame.

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Although it’s taken nearly two decades and the efforts of many dedicated people, the former Office of Missing Soldiers is complete and open to the public for tours providing  a look back at a mid-19th century Washington and a greater understanding of Clara Barton’s humanitarian journey.

 

One Red Cross to Reunite Them All

For anyone that has ever traveled, you know each country offers something unique, something that makes it stand out from other places. Which is why people travel. It’s an awesome thing to experience new foods, cultures and customs.  Countries—and even cities–look/taste/smell/feel a little bit different as you move place to place.

The global Red Cross is like that too. Each national society has slightly different roles within their country. We are still one Red Cross; all adhering to the same seven guiding principles (humanity, neutrality, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality if you’re counting). But, for example, the Japanese Red Cross Society has a booming medical capacity. After the 2011 tsunami, they rebuilt hospitals and ran ambulance services.  We don’t do that here in the U.S. We are known for our first aid and blood services (although we do LOTS more too).  Some national societies are focused on health programming; some on disaster preparedness. It’s a little different place to place.

There is one thing that every single national society does do—reconnect families.  Each and every 189 of them.

Bulgarian Red Cross Reconnection

Bulgarian Red Cross Reconnection

 

Conflict and disasters leave more than physical wounds: in the turmoil, panic and terror, loved ones can be separated in minutes, sometimes leading to long years of anguish and uncertainty about the fate of children, spouses or parents. The Red Cross, as part of its Restoring Family Links program, works to locate people and put them back into contact with their loved ones. Annually, the American Red Cross alone assists more than 5,000 families in this effort.

In the spirit of one Red Cross, I’d like to give one more glimpse into our work internationally reconnecting families. This time from the words of the national societies themselves.

Irish Red Cross 

Restoring Family Links: It’s all in a day’s Work!

Bulgarian Red Cross

The Story of Hivro and His Wife: Refugees from Syria

South Africa Red Cross

Two Siblings Reconnect after 20 Years of Separation

To learn more about Restoring Family Links, visit redcross.org.

I’m a Military Mom!

By Dorry Gundy,  Mother of Navy Lt. Shannon Rice

I didn’t expect I would be the mother of a U.S. Navy officer. I’ve always had a deep respect for those who serve in the military. My father was a Master Gunnery Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, stationed in the Pacific Islands during World War II. He carried the values of the US Marine Corps with him every day and instilled them in all of his ten children. Two of my brothers joined the Marine Corps and my nephew is set to become an officer in the Corps upon his college graduation. Yes, the military is an important calling for the males in my family.

When I grew up, I married and had two daughters, Lea and Shannon who are now adults. They are best of friends and wonderful people. Shannon, the youngest, got her undergraduate degree in Biology from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, then pursued a Master of Science in Health Sciences Physician Assistant Studies at PCOM in Philadelphia. At the PCOM graduation ceremony in 2011, her classmate and friend, Amy was inducted into the U.S. Navy, and as a college graduate, she was on track to become an officer. It was a beautiful and touching ceremony. Shannon moved home to find a job as a Physician Assistant in the Washington, D.C., area.

Three weeks later she announced that she decided to join the U.S. Navy to carry out her work as a Physician Assistant. I cried, and they weren’t tears of joy. I didn’t want my daughter to become part of a wider family that serves our country?that’s for other people; that’s for guys. But she was resolute. She explained to me that the Navy offered things that were important to her: the opportunity to travel and to experience other parts of the world; a leadership role as an officer; the drive to take on new challenges and to leave her comfort zone; and the opportunity to do what’s important to her?to help the people who serve our country.

She was inducted and, weeks later, headed off to Officer Development School in Newport, Rhode Island. It wasn’t easy for her?we weren’t the kind of parents who shouted at our daughters to get out of bed in the morning?but she not only survived, she thrived. When she graduated six weeks later, I thought my heart would burst with pride. LTJG Shannon Rice. I cried again, though this time it was tears of joy. She was where she wanted to be?helping the large family that serves our great country as a Physician Assistant in the U.S. Navy.

My daughter Navy LTJG Shannon Rice

My daughter Navy LTJG Shannon Rice

Her first assignment was working as a PA at the Marine Corps Air Station clinic in Iwakuni, Japan and at that time, I was doing freelance work for the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C. It was then that we both learned of an important program offered by the American Red Cross for service members. The Service to the Armed Forces is a global communication link between service members and their families in the U.S. We both were impressed that the SAF offers help to families in getting their service member home in the event of a family emergency. As someone who administers to patients that serve our country, Shannon knows the peace of mind the SAF program gives to them.

Now, Lt. Shannon Rice and her friend from PCOM, Amy, also a Lieutenant are both in San Diego administering to patients of the military and their families at naval clinics there. I still can’t believe I’m the mother of a Navy officer, but I know my daughter made the right decision.

14 #MilSpouse Truths

Happy Military Spouse Appreciation Day! If you’re a #MilSpouse, how many of these are true for you?

1. Your kids are tech wiz kids, after all the Skyping, Google Hangouts, and emailing they do with their deployed parent.

 

2. Your surprise homecoming fantasies rival your single friends’ proposal fantasies.

 

3. You when non-military spouses complain about their significant other staying at work too late:

4. Your reaction when someone says you should sleep more:

5. …or take a “me” day…

6. Even though you’re an expert at moving, you still think it’s THE WORST.

 

7. When a future employer asks if you can handle stress:

8. You almost cannot handle your overwhelming gratitude when a new teacher understands military family life.

9. You’re always posting and following #MilSpouse and #MilFam.

10. You know that tears are multi-purposeful.

 

11. How you feel sometimes when your non-military friends say they understand:

12. Homecoming has a totally different meaning than it did in high school.

 

13. But you’re willing to take it all on…

 

14. And at the end of the day, you’re happy you and your partner chose this life:

 

Thank you for your and your family’s service! And happy Mother’s Day to the MilSpouse moms out there!

Go to redcross.org/military, or contact your local Red Cross to see how we can help, such as with Reconnection Workshops or training for easily transferable jobs.

Part of the Puzzle – Our International Movement

Today is world Red Cross/Red Crescent Day – here’s kind of a cheesy – but effective – way to look at the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement:

Click to Mix and Solve

Technically, the movement is comprised of more than 150 “societies” around the world – the American Red Cross being one of them. We’re all pieces of a larger puzzle – and our end image is to provide neutral, humanitarian assistance to those in need…whether it’s in one of our local neighborhoods for a house fire, helping someone get back on their feet after a tornado touches down across the country, or help a country that was devastated by a typhoon halfway around the world.

One in twenty-five people receive help from the global Red Cross network every single year. One in five hundred people in the world is a volunteer for the cause.

The Red Cross network transcends borders. Guided by its seven fundamental principles—humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality—Red Cross volunteers are inspired to help at every turn.

Nearly everyone has a Red Cross story – including the people below. What’s yours? Share your Red Cross story at ifrc.tumblr.com.

PS: you can click on the puzzle if you want to put it back together!

First and Second Ladies Visit the Red Cross

Wednesday was an exciting day at the American Red Cross National Headquarters! We had the privilege to host the Launch of the Joining Forces Impact Pledge event, in coordination with the White House, the Council on Foundations and the White Oak Steering Committee. Joining Forces is the White House initiative to rally the military, nonprofit, philanthropic and everyday communities to better support our service members, veterans and their families. This event announced and celebrated that more than $160 million has been pledged over the next five years to support military families, and that amount far surpasses the goal of $100 million!

The event was held in the American Red Cross National Headquarters' historic and beautiful Hall of Service.

The event was held in the American Red Cross National Headquarters’ historic and beautiful Hall of Service.

The event had many prestigious speakers, including leaders from the military, nonprofits, and foundations, and it all led up to the women of the hour: Michelle Obama and Jill Biden!

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Michelle Obama and Jill Biden were introduced by Chissandra Jackson (center), a military child and NMSI Scholarship recipient.

Michelle Obama reminded us that heartwarming coming home videos are not the end of the story. Watch her thoughtfully express the questions that these donations are going to help answer:

Philanthropy is a vital aspect to answering these questions. The Red Cross is grateful to be the recipient of some of these donations, especially from our Service to the Armed Forces Giving Program members (MGM Resorts, The Pantry, and University of Phoenix), who donate at least $250,000 each year to help the Red Cross help military families so they are not facing these burdens alone. Through the continuum of care, the Red Cross is there from the beginning of service members’ careers, throughout active duty, during transition to civilian life, and throughout veterans’ lives. Go to redcross.org/military to learn more or to donate. Every dollar counts!

Mrs. Obama also thanked the Red Cross and reminded us that she herself is a Red Crosser:

I also want to thank everyone at the Red Cross not only for hosting us today, but for the incredible work you do every day.  Red Cross has a special place in my heart because I served on the board in Chicago.  We have seen the vital role you play for our country over these past few days as you all are working around the clock to help communities in Arkansas and all across the South and the Midwest recovering from a string of devastating tornados.  So we are especially grateful, as we always are, for your extraordinary efforts, especially in times like these.” (Video)

To learn more about the event and the pledge, see the White House blog post, which includes the full video of the First and Second Ladies’ speeches.

From the Archives: National Nurses Week

May 6 – May 12, 2014 is National Nurses Week! To honor all Red Cross nurses, past and present, we offer a look at American Red Cross nurses throughout our history.

 

World War I nurses work at a recruiting station to field new members.

World War I nurses work at a recruiting station to field new members.

 

June 8, 1942. Washington, D.C. Senior student nurses leaving the Pan American building after having been enrolled in the first Red Cross Student Nurse Reserve group in the United States.

June 8, 1942. Washington, D.C. Senior student nurses leaving the Pan American building after having been enrolled in the first Red Cross Student Nurse Reserve group in the United States.

 

June 2008. Devastating floods covered parts of Indiana affecting residential areas, farmlands, and businesses. Nurse Melissa Schultz, a Red Cross volunteer, comforts Doloris Faust, who is staying at a Red Cross shelter in Martinsville, Indiana.

June 2008. Devastating floods covered parts of Indiana affecting residential areas, farmlands, and businesses. Nurse Melissa Schultz, a Red Cross volunteer, comforts Doloris Faust, who is staying at a Red Cross shelter in Martinsville, Indiana.

 

May 2011. Vicksburg, Mississippi. American Red Cross nurse, Regina Hudson with Jermiya Jackson at the Red Cross shelter at the Hawkins United Methodist Church.

May 2011. Vicksburg, Mississippi. American Red Cross nurse, Regina Hudson with Jermiya Jackson at the Red Cross shelter at the Hawkins United Methodist Church.

 

 

Getting It Right: Flood Myth vs. Fact

There are lots of myths out there about what’s ok during a flood, and sometimes simply uninformed decisions. That’s why the Red Cross works to share information and help ensure people are prepared for disasters of all kinds.

Even just two feet of water can float most vehicles and, if the water is moving quickly, vehicles can be swept away. Not recommended:

Hurricane Isaac 2012 September 1, 2012. Helena, Mississippi. Flooding in Helena, Mississippi, following Hurricane Isaac. Photo by Talia Frenkel/American Red Cross .

Hurricane Isaac 2012
September 1, 2012. Helena, Mississippi. Flooding in Helena, Mississippi, following Hurricane Isaac. Photo by Talia Frenkel/American Red Cross

 

You also shouldn’t walk through flood water. Just six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off your feet. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Not recommended:

Tennessee Floods 2010 Many of the local merchants forced to close their establishments in downtown Nashville couldn’t wait for the flood waters to recede completely, opting instead to wade in the standing water to peek at the damages.   Photo Credit: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

Tennessee Floods 2010
Many of the local merchants forced to close their establishments in downtown Nashville couldn’t wait for the flood waters to recede completely, opting instead to wade in the standing water to peek at the damages.
Photo Credit: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

 

Flash floods also don’t just happen near bodies of water. It could creep to the front of your business:

Tennessee Floods 2010 Many of the local merchants forced to close their establishments in downtown Nashville couldn’t wait for the flood waters to recede completely, opting instead to wade in the standing water to peek at the damages.   Photo Credit: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

Tennessee Floods 2010
Many of the local merchants forced to close their establishments in downtown Nashville couldn’t wait for the flood waters to recede completely, opting instead to wade in the standing water to peek at the damages.
Photo Credit: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

 

Or in the middle of your town:

MN Northland Flooding Red Cross disaster relief workers are responding to flooding in Duluth, MN, and surrounding areas.   Photo Credit: Judy Hanne-Gonzalez

MN Northland Flooding
Red Cross disaster relief workers are responding to flooding in Duluth, MN, and surrounding areas.
Photo Credit: Judy Hanne-Gonzalez

 

This myth vs. fact graphic helps capture and correct popular misconceptions of safe procedures in a flood. These facts aren’t just trivia — they’re lifesavers.

 flood myths facts

Read more about the flood app and plenty of other flood tips on redcross.org.

Celebrating Military Children This April

There are currently 1.8 million children with one or more parent serving in the military. In 1986, Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger designated each April as “The Month of the Military Child” to recognize the special contribution that the military child makes as their parent or parents serve our nation.

The Red Cross Nashville Area Chapter celebrated this month by honoring and recognizing our youngest heroes.

While we often hear about the impact deployments can have on service members, the toll that it can take on military children is often overlooked. According to a recent study by the Journal of Adolescent Health, youth with parents (and siblings) in the military have a greater risk of mental health issues, especially depression and suicidal thoughts. While the majority of military kids are doing well, many kids who are unable to attend a base school lack support and understanding from their civilian teachers, principals and community. With more and more troops returning home every day, there will be an even greater need to provide these kids with increased support and resources.

To help provide these incredible kids and their families, the Red Cross provides Reconnection Workshops on Relating to Children to help military families address the challenges faced by today’s military kids. This module provides parents with the valuable skills to help parents understand how children of different ages might respond to stress during reunions following long absences, empowering parents to help their children better adapt.

To learn more about Reconnections Workshops or to schedule one today for your family, please email Reconnection@redcross.org.

Know the Difference: Warnings and Watches

With last night’s slew of damaging storms, and the next few days looking very dangerous for many parts of the country, we wanted to share a quick set of definitions to help you.

Information for Tornadoes
Tornado Watch – Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives!

Tornado Warning - A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately under ground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior room (closet, hallway or bathroom).

Be prepared
During any storm, listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed about tornado watches and warnings.

Pick a safe room in your home where household members and pets may gather during a tornado. This should be a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.

Know your community’s warning system. Communities have different ways of warning residents about tornados, with many having sirens intended for outdoor warning purposes.

DOWNLOAD the Tornado app, then learn how to set warnings

Information for Floods
Flood/Flash Flood Watch — Flooding or flash flooding is possible in your area.

Flood/Flash Flood Warning — Flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.

Be Prepared
Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.

If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.

Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.

DOWNLOAD the Flood App for more information.