19 of the Most Inspiring Red Cross Rescues
The Red Cross has been coming to the rescue of those in need since 1863. We found photos of some of their most remarkable rescues and relief efforts.
The founding of the Red Cross
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The Red Cross, a global humanitarian network that provides assistance to victims of disasters, health crises, and armed conflict (without regard to which side a victim happens to be on), was founded in Switzerland in 1863. Here, Red Cross volunteers offer assistance to both the French and the Prussians during the Battle of Gravelotte in France in 1870. Before you donate blood to the Red Cross, here’s what you should know.
The Red Cross in America
The American Red Cross was founded by Clara Barton on May 21, 1881. Since 1900, it’s been tasked by the federal government with providing rescue and other assistance to members of the U.S. armed forces and their families, as well as disaster relief, throughout the world. Pictured here is a drawing depicting a fire rescue in London during the late 19th century.
Johnstown Flood of 1889
In the Red Cross’s first international response effort, 50 brave and selfless volunteers of the American branch, led by Clara Barton, were on hand to help the victims of the massive flood that ensued after a dam in Johnstown, Pennsylvania failed on May 31, 1889, taking the lives of 2,209 people. The rescue and relief attracted Red Cross volunteers and donations from 19 different countries. Find out about more natural disasters you never realized happened in the United States.
Royal support for the Red Cross
During World War I, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, the wife of Tsar Nicholas of Russia, was deeply dedicated to her volunteer work on behalf of the Red Cross and encouraged a passion for caring for the wounded in her daughters as well. Pictured here, the Tsarina and her two eldest daughters, the Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana, are assisting in the surgery of a wounded soldier in 1915.
Canines providing comfort
In addition to empresses and grand duchesses, the Red Cross was assisted during World War I by canine volunteers. Here’s one pulling an ambulance-cart in France. Here’s how to keep your pet safe during a natural disaster.
The Southern California Flood of 1938
Colliding weather systems in Southern California in late March 1938 killed at least 100 people and destroyed the homes and property of countless. But the Red Cross was on hand. Here they’re rescuing a family of 12 in Venice, California.
Nobel Peace Prize-worthy efforts
During World War II, the Red Cross’s inspiring efforts earned the Red Cross its second Nobel Peace Prize (the first was won in 1917) in 1944. Pictured here is Jane Steward, a volunteer from the American Red Cross who is comforting a wounded French soldier in Brittany, France by helping him to light a cigarette. (This practice would be questionable today.) A third Nobel Peace Prize was won by the Red Cross in 1963. Check out these moving quotes about peace from world leaders.
Industrial disaster relief
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The Red Cross was on hand to rescue and relieve those injured in the Texas City Disaster of 1947. The disaster, which started with the explosion of a French ship in the city’s harbor on April 16, 1947, is still the deadliest industrial accident in U.S. history and one of the largest non-nuclear explosions. Here, a volunteer hands out coffee and cigarettes to victims. Find out the one thing these survivors of natural disasters wish they’d done to prepare.
Red Cross workers need rescue too
Pictured here is a Red Cross worker being rescued after being shot during a battle between U.N. forces and Katanga rebels during the Congo Revolution of 1961, which you may not know was actually a “proxy” conflict between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War. It began after the Congo declared itself independent of Belgium. Here are 10 more tricky U.S. war history questions no one ever gets right.
Helping the innocent victims of war
In another horrible episode that took place during the political upheaval in the 1960s, the Republic of Biafra seceded from Nigeria in 1967 only to be attacked by Nigerian government forces five weeks later. When peace efforts stalled, Biafra lost its oil fields. Since oil was Biafra’s main source of revenue, the nation began starving to death; a million people died of malnutrition. Here Red Cross doctors tend to a very sick child in a Biafra hospital.