Proclamation 5764—American Red Cross Month, 1988
By the President of the United States of America
The remarkable story of the International Red Cross began at Solferino, in northern Italy, exactly 125 years ago, when battling Austrian and French soldiers brought death and destruction to the countryside—and when Swiss traveler Henri Dunant realized that wounded soldiers should receive assistance no matter what their allegiance.
From that compassion at Solferino grew a great tradition and a humanitarian organization that relieves the sufferings of all those wounded not only by war but also by poor health, old age, personal adversity, natural calamity, and so on.
As Americans join people around the globe in observing this anniversary, we reflect that the story could have turned out much differently if Henri Dunant—one man, after all—had ignored Solferino and its victims. Clara Barton, for instance, might never have founded the American Red Cross, and her counterparts in other countries might never have founded sister societies. Life would truly have been different in our land for people who needed blood, or evacuees left homeless by floods, or accident victims, or countless others.
A century and a quarter after Solferino, we have real reason to celebrate the victory for humanity and for international cooperation that sprang from that battlefield. Today, 145 national societies of the International Red Cross offer help without regard to race, creed, cause, or nationality. Like many of these societies, the American Red Cross provides assistance on several fronts, including health and safety, disaster relief, blood, and social services.
Every day, the American Red Cross battles the devastation left by natural disasters. Last year, the Red Cross clothed, fed, or sheltered 450,000 disaster victims, and through the generosity of the American people it provided individuals with $122 million in disaster relief.
The Red Cross also assists military personnel, last year alone helping members of the Armed Forces and their families 2.5 million times. Daily it relays 4,000 messages of birth, death, and illness to military posts worldwide.
The American Red Cross battles potential threats to the blood supply by collecting, and testing for disease, more than half of our Nation's blood supply. Last year, four million volunteers donated blood to the Red Cross, restoring life and health to millions of blood recipients.
The Red Cross also fights hazards to health and safety by training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, first aid, swimming, water and boating safety, and preparation for parenthood and babysitting. Last year, seven million Americans successfully completed Red Cross courses. Last year, Red Cross chapters also distributed 67 million AIDS brochures and urged the public "to get the facts."
The Red Cross also combats social and economic problems; it helps young mothers, assists the aged, the homeless, and the destitute, and helps immigrants learn English.
These are some of the reasons we all rejoice in the vision and the mission of the American Red Cross, especially in this 125th anniversary year of the International Red Cross.
Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America and Honorary Chairman of the American National Red Cross, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim the month of March 1988 as American Red Cross Month. I urge all Americans to continue their generous support and ready assistance to the work of the American Red Cross and its more than 2,800 chapters, 1.4 million adult members, and three million youth volunteers.
In Witness Whereof I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of January, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twelfth.
Note: The proclamation was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on January 29.
Ronald Reagan, Proclamation 5764—American Red Cross Month, 1988 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/255300