The Red Cross has a long-standing relationship with the White House dating back to 1913 and President Woodrow Wilson. The American Red Cross was founded in 1881 by Clara Barton, who served as its president under the original articles of incorporation. Following her resignation in 1904, the Red Cross was restructured and led by a Central Committee, with six of its 18 members, and its chairman appointed by the U.S. President.
In 1906 a largely ceremonial office of president was added and in 1913, President Wilson agreed to serve in this role. This began a tradition that continues to the present whereby the president of the United States serves as honorary chairman of the American Red Cross. The Red Cross is not a government agency and does not receive a regular appropriation from Congress.
March is Red Cross Month, first proclaimed in 1943 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Since then, every president, including President Obama, has designated March as Red Cross Month. All of the country’s leaders since President Roosevelt have also had something to say about the Red Cross.
Here are the thoughts of some of the US presidents on the Red Cross:
- Jimmy Carter: “Traditionally, March is Red Cross Month. During this period I hope all Americans will reflect of the selflessness that has led so many of our neighbors to serve the Red Cross-and their fellow Americans- with their time, their energy, and their love. We can follow their example by supporting our local Red Cross chapter.”
- George Bush Sr: “[F]or millions of people in need. . .the Red Cross is a brilliant point of light-part of that vast galaxy of individuals, businesses, schools, churches, synagogues, and voluntary associations working together to solve problems. . . . For 109 years that star has shone anytime there has been a need-anywhere there is a need. And today it dazzles still. . . .providing light at the end of the tunnel, a rainbow through the clouds.”
- Bill Clinton: “Its [the American Red Cross’s] commitment to caring for others enables us to restore hope in the lives of injured citizens, and its example challenges us to revitalize the covenant of American citizenship. The long-term strength of our nation depends upon our willingness to live out the ideals long embodied by the American Red Cross. To celebrate our past and to safeguard our future, I am proud to commend the countless individuals whose courage and selflessness have sustained this organization for more than a century.”
- George W. Bush: “By donating their time and energy to selflessly serve others, American Red Cross volunteers demonstrate the compassion and generosity for which Americans are known. Their service paves the way to a brighter future for our citizens and people around the world.”
- Barack Obama: “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.”