Harry S. Truman photo

Radio and Television Remarks Opening the Red Cross Campaign

February 27, 1951

[ Broadcast from the White House at 10:55 p.m. ]

THANK YOU, Mr. Harriman.

We have heard tonight about the work of the Red Cross, and about how much it needs the help of every one of us.

I enrolled in the Red Cross earlier today-in fact, Mr. Harriman just enrolled me--and I hope that every American citizen will enroll in the Red Cross in the weeks ahead and give to the limit for its great work.

The Red Cross expresses our basic national ideal of giving a helping hand to others. Clara Barton, who founded the Red Cross in this country, made it her business to give aid to the wounded and the suffering in our Civil War. She did not have much to start with, only the feeling that it was her duty to help those who were in pain or distress. She went to the battlefields on her own. No one asked her to go-nobody made her go--but she went to help others because she knew that was the thing to do.

The simple faith of Clara Barton laid the foundation of one of the greatest humanitarian organizations in our history. The American people responded to her example. They shared her faith and still share it, and by following her example they have made the American Red Cross the great institution that it is today.

The Red Cross is a voluntary organization. Nobody is compelled to work in it or to give to it, and yet it bears a heavy national responsibility to meet the needs of our people in time of distress.

In the last few months the responsibilities of the American Red Cross have been greatly increased. The national emergency has imposed new burdens upon it. The Red Cross is mobilizing its resources to give aid to our fighting men abroad and to increase our preparedness at home.

The American Red Cross has the responsibility of collecting whole blood to save the lives of our soldiers in Korea.

The American Red Cross has the responsibility of serving the men in our Armed Forces and their families, as it has served them in every period of mobilization or conflict since it was founded.

Today the American Red Cross has a very important part in our plans for civil defense, in addition to its usual duties in connection with disasters such as floods and fires. The American Red Cross has to be prepared to meet any eventuality in the case of armed attack on this country.

These responsibilities must be met. They can be met only if all of us support the Red Cross--only if we give our blood--or enroll in one of its many services-or donate what we can to pay its expenses.

The Red Cross is a voluntary organization, as I said before. It is our organization, yours and mine. It belongs to all the American people. It gives us a chance to show how free men can work together in a spirit of good will for the benefit of all.

Voluntary action by people who believe in a common cause is still the greatest force in the world. It is far more effective than any form of tyranny or despotism.

If we, as a nation, get together in that spirit of freedom, I am sure that we can overcome the crisis that faces the free world-and I believe that we can bring the world nearer to the peace which all men desire.

Note: The President was introduced by E. Roland Harriman, President of the American National Red Cross.

Harry S. Truman, Radio and Television Remarks Opening the Red Cross Campaign Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231439

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