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March is Red Cross Month: the Presidential Proclamation

This week – and this year, for that matter – is a significant one, at least politically. As our country inches toward the next Presidential election in November, the two major political parties; the remaining Republican candidates; our current President, House, and Senate; and events like caucuses, primaries, and Super Tuesday dominate the news media.

When we turn our attention to newspaper articles, radio broadcasts, and online media sources we rarely encounter reports about political compromise or agreement. News of such a negative nature can be frustrating, to say the least, which is why I love the breath of fresh air that is the President’s annual declaration of March as Red Cross Month.

In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt began the tradition of officially proclaiming March as Red Cross month. Since then, every president – regardless of political affiliation – has followed Roosevelt’s lead in showing support for the work of our great organization.

“I request that during that month (March) our people rededicate themselves to the splendid aims and activities of the Red Cross. I summon the men, women, and young people of our country, in every city and town and village, in every county and state throughout the land, to enlist in the arm of mercy mobilized under the banner of the Red Cross and to contribute generously to the Red Cross War Fund.”
~ President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1943

On Thursday, March 1st, nearly 70 years after Roosevelt laid the first stone, President Barack Obama lengthened this pathway of unifying hope and mercy by issuing his “March is American Red Cross Month” proclamation.

“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. 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.”
~ President Barack Obama, 2012

I find it incredibly refreshing that even at the height of political competitions, when disagreement defines the days and the words exchanged and stories written aren’t always kind, our highest political leaders have always publicly agreed on one thing – the importance of the American Red Cross in our country.

The American Red Cross is NOT a government agency, but is instead an independent organization chartered by the United States Congress to fulfill the provisions of the Geneva Conventions, provide communications and family support to the United States Military, and maintain a system of national and international disaster relief. The Red Cross and Red Crescent societies operate under the fundamental principles of independence, neutrality, and impartiality, and as such maintain autonomy, refrain from political controversy, and provide assistance based on need alone.