11 Years Later: Remembering the Red Cross on 9/11

It’s often during times of excitement and disaster that we forget those who worked behind the scenes.  Commemoration of the tragic attacks of 9/11 justly salutes the NYPD, NYFD, and the fallen civilians who bravely weathered the terrible storm.  But today, on the 11 year anniversary of 9/11, I’d like to take a moment to remember the heroic efforts of 25,000 medical volunteers who aided the wounded as part of the American Red Cross.


In 1869, young Clara Barton, a teacher and advocate for soldiers, was taking a much-needed respite in Europe during the Franco-Prussian War.  Her kind heart and helping hands were, of course, unable to ignore the casualties of the war and the great humanitarian relief efforts of the International Red Cross.   So, with red crosses in her eyes, she swiftly sailed the sea and brought home the concept, officially launching the American Red Cross in 1881.

Clara Barton

Clara Barton, Founder of the American Red Cross (


Although bureaucracies have plagued the American Red Cross, they have been instrumental in our recovery from many wars and disasters, the first of which was the Great Fire of 1881 in Michigan.


And then just 8 short years later, Clara led the effort during the Johnstown Flood in 1889 in Pennsylvania, which remains one of the most devastating disasters in the history of the United States.


WW1 saw American Red Cross nurses filling hospitals and dispensaries all over Europe as they tended to wounded soldiers and the morale of the men.

WW1 Nurse and soldier

WW1 nurse and soldier on Christmas Day from McMahan Photo (


During WW2, many American Red Cross units were detached and sent overseas to aid sailors and soldiers.  And of course, were there for those returning from battle to fertile United States soil.

Nurse and Sailor Kiss

NYC nurse and sailor on V-J Day (


As one of the five deadliest hurricanes in all of United States history, Katrina relied heavily upon the efforts of the American Red Cross, along with the Coast Guard (hooray!) and FEMA.  They provided housing, food, hygiene, and the first ever online family member locator: Safe and Well.


I’ve left so many great efforts off of the list (the Spanish-American War, the Titanic, Dustbowl drought, Oklahoma City bombing…) and I wish I could fit them all in.  Instead, I’ll end with a quote from Clara Barton, the woman who started it all.

“Although its growth may seem to have been slow, it is to be remembered that it is not a shrub, or plant, to shoot up in the summer and wither in the frosts. The Red Cross is a part of us–it has come to stay–and like the sturdy oak, its spreading branches shall yet encompass and shelter the relief of the nation.”  -Clara Barton


For a slideshow of the American Red Cross of Greater New York’s response during 9/11, head over to their website here




  1. Anjou, thanks for including the American Red Cross in your post. I work for Red Cross in DC and we are all thinking about the events of 2001 today and hoping never to see that type of disaster again, but knowing we’ll be there for the American people no matter what.

    • How wonderful of you! Today, I am certainly thinking of your brave efforts and healing hands and am so grateful for everything you provide. I know I left out DC and the Pentagon efforts, but please know we are all thinking of you as well on this day. Knowing that the Red Cross is always there for us, helping us through the worst of times, we can surely brave anything. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your kind heart!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: