Red Cross Runs in the Family

Story by Wendy Flynn, Regional Director of Volunteers for the Eastern NC Region of the American Red Cross.

Volunteers are the heart of the American Red Cross; from Clara Barton assisting on the Civil War battlefields to our present day volunteers responding to disasters across the country. I had the honor and privilege to be invited to the American Red Cross Overseas Association (ARCOA) Memory Ceremony, held at the American Red Cross office in Washington D.C. on November 8th. I was invited to accept the Services to the Armed Forces Legacy Recognition Award for my Great-Great Aunt Agnes Jacobs, who was a Red Cross nurse that served overseas in Paris and Pau, France from 1914-1917 in the hospitals assisting wounded warriors.

Wendy Flynn, Regional Director of Volunteers, at the Red Cross Overseas Association Memorial Ceremony and Recognition of Red Cross Staff Deployed from 1918-2013 event in D.C. on November 8.

Wendy Flynn, Regional Director of Volunteers, at the Red Cross Overseas Association Memorial Ceremony and Recognition of Red Cross Staff Deployed from 1918-2013 event in D.C. on November 8.

While I have always had a strong respect for the history of the Red Cross it became more apparent as I spoke with other volunteers who were present at the event. At the ceremony were two ladies, aged 95 and 99, who had both served as Red Cross volunteers with the military in Europe during World War 2;  they came to the event with other volunteers who had also served during World War 2 working as “donut dollies”. There was a group of ladies who traveled from Arizona, to have a slumber party/reunion with others there for the weekend. They were a part of a small community non-profit from the Vietnam era who traveled with the Red Cross to assist children affected by conflict in their communities. A story was told of a volunteer who had recently died, she was a volunteer in Vietnam, who had been wounded in the head and had to be airlifted MASH style to a field hospital. Sherri Brown had said that this was the only known case of a volunteer having treatment in this fashion.

The ceremony focused on the 5oth Anniversary of  Vietnam. There was a wreath laying commemorating the five Red Cross workers who were killed in action in Vietnam. A second wreath laying was presented for those volunteers who passed away in the past year while their names were read out and taps was played. Lt. Gen. Claude M. Kicklighter presented the Red Cross with a flag commemorating the Vietnam  Anniversary and gave a speech on the role of the Red Cross in military situations.

Overall, the ceremony was very memorable and one to show that our volunteers are never forgotten. It was Jerry DeFrancisco’s (Special Assistant to the President and CEO of the American Red Cross) idea to start the Service to Armed Forces (SAF) Legacy Recognition program and Deborah MacSwain (Volunteer and President of ARCOA), as well as many others who support and keep this program alive for generations to come. While I was not the only one there honoring loved ones of the past for their great service to the Red Cross and the military, this program lives through the dedication and hard work of volunteers.

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