National Geographic Magazine/Volume 31/Number 5/The Red Cross Spirit
|←A Poisoned World||The National Geographic Magazine
Volume 31, No. 5 [May 1917]
|The Red Cross Spirit Speaks→|
The Red Cross Spirit
It is a most satisfactory fact that the Red Cross was able to call into the field and send to Europe the first actual help that we have extended to our allies, in the form of those six base hospital units which were called and sailed. Inside of three weeks the whole six units were on the water going to Europe, where they will take over existing hospitals and relieve the overworked staffs who have been struggling with their problem of caring for the wounded for nearly the last three years.
Sacrifices that count
The sacrifice these people make who go, particularly the doctors, is one that we cannot forget. When a busy doctor answers the call, such as Dr. Brewer in New York, it is something we should never forget. Dr. Brewer received his telegram that he was to go.
He was here the next morning to make the arrangements, and I met him, talked with him a minute, and he said: “My house is to rent. I have performed my last operation in this country. I am going to use every bit of my time from now on to enlist the balance of the personnel, getting my uniforms, and getting the men ready and everything in good order so that we can go.”
Such a sacrifice by a busy doctor, with a tremendous practice, cannot be measured in money. Any business man could afford to give a check for a year's income and be allowed to stay at home and go on with his business far better than any one of those doctors can afford to go over there and practically disappear from view for how long he does not know; it may be six months, it may be a year, it may be five years.
Not a single one of them begged off. They all went, unless there was some very pressing family reason, such as a serious illness, and in all cases they expressed a desire to go just as soon as they could possibly get away.
A hundred per cent of givers
It is a tremendous power for good that is now spread in every hamlet, in every cross-roads in the country. It is in guiding that power and giving it something to do, in pointing out ways in which it can help more and more as the war goes on, that the headquarters has been occupied.
The Red Cross of this country has a problem that no Red Cross has ever had before—that of doing its own work in our own armed forces and at the same time trying to give the greatest possible help to the nations who are in desperate need of that help and who are really fighting our battle.
The Red Cross is strong now as it was never strong before for carrying on this work, and we can go before the country with absolute confidence that we can do the work that the country intrusts to us; that we can handle the money, the voluntary contributions that they may make, with the best possible efficiency and get the best possible results.
I know from personal observation what the problem is in Europe. It is beyond the power of any group of men or any nation to really meet those needs. But I have at least a vision of seeing throughout this country every individual affiliated in some way with the Red Cross through a Red Cross chapter or auxiliary branch.
Every individual that wants to help—and every individual does want to help—can be given a definite and practical burden to carry, and thus help to make this American National Red Cross give to our allies and give to this cause one of the greatest contributions toward winning the war than any nation in the world has ever given as a voluntary offering!