Harry S. Truman photo

Radio Remarks Opening the Red Cross Fund Campaign.

February 29, 1948

[ Broadcast from Key West, Fla., at 10 p.m. ]

My fellow citizens:

I am speaking to you tonight not about affairs of state, but about that good friend of humanity--the Red Cross.

As the honorary chairman of the Red Cross, I have made it my business to examine its program and its financial requirements.

Its greatest strength lies in the fact that it belongs to the people. It reaches into every community of our land. An average of one person in every family in the United States now holds a junior or a senior Red Cross membership. Such widespread acceptance by the people tells its own story.

It is inspiring just to review the role of this far-flung organization. With the Red Cross it is not a question of doing merely one job well. Its program has many important parts. The Red Cross must be ready at all times to move and act simultaneously on widely varying programs. In all it does, service to humanity is its main objective as well as its sole reward.

An example of how the Red Cross operates along so many fronts is revealed in one of its reports to me. Recently it launched a national blood program, and the first regional blood center to be opened in this new service was dedicated last January 12th. During the same week the Red Cross was aiding the victims of six separate disasters in widely scattered sections. Some had just occurred. Work on others was in the final stages. These catastrophes included a gulf coast hurricane, a flood in Oregon, New England forest fires, a plane crash in Georgia, a southeastern tornado. At the same time aid was being given to distressed Navajo and Hopi Indians in the Far West.

As always, the families caught in these emergencies were dealt with on an individual basis. Yet the Red Cross was able to carry out all these assignments without the slightest interruption in launching its new blood program.

When catastrophe strikes, the Red Cross moves with the precision of a well-trained army to bring order out of chaos. It provides aid to stricken people without weakening their self-respect. Altogether, it has handled 3,650 disasters in its time. These errands of mercy represent a shining chapter in the annals of relief-giving.

The 1948 campaign objective totals $75 million. The results, however, should be limited only by the generosity of the American people. Certainly, no price tag can be fixed upon the comforts given or the hopes relit by the Red Cross. Its services, particularly in these days, are priceless to our way of life.

So, even when we add up the dollars needed, even when we add up the pints of blood required, even when we add up disaster cases handled each year, all of us realize that the Red Cross service cannot be measured accurately by any known yardstick.

What we can do when the campaign gets under way is to remember the organization's deeds. Perhaps we can picture the light on the faces of the bewildered hurricane sufferers upon learning that the Red Cross would rebuild their wrecked homes. Perhaps we can see, as the Red Cross workers have seen, the gratitude of the New Englander upon being assured that he would live after nearly 100 blood transfusions, or the relief of thousands of veterans when they realized the Red Cross would lend them a hand. Thousands of times in the year ahead the Red Cross will be called upon to meet similar situations.

In this great cause it matters not how we may differ on the pressing issues of the day. Beneath the flag of the Red Cross we are a united people.

In this spirit, I ask you, my fellow citizens, to give the Red Cross your wholehearted support.

Harry S. Truman, Radio Remarks Opening the Red Cross Fund Campaign. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232397

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