Monday, February 17, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mr. Washington!

By Kelly Norton, Volunteer Contributor

February 22nd marks George Washington's 282nd birthday, which our country celebrates as a federal holiday on the third Monday in February. Although it's technically Mr. Washington's big day, many people commonly refer to this holiday as President's Day and celebrate all 42 men who have led the United States of America.

Did you know that President Barack Obama has an important position in the Red Cross? In fact, all U.S. presidents since 1913 have. President Obama is the organization's Honorary Chairmen with duties including appointing the Chairman of the Board of Governors and designating members of his Administration to serve on the Red Cross Cabinet Council. This tradition began in 1913 with Woodrow Wilson who served as Honorary President of the American Red Cross and has continued since. The title was changed to Honorary Chairman in 1947.

In addition, President Obama's signature is on the American Red Cross Certificate of Merit National Lifesaving Award, the organization's highest award for those who have used the skills they learned in Red Cross courses to help save or sustain a life.

U.S. presidents have contributed to the Red Cross mission in many ways. In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson called on youth across the country to join the newly formed Junior Red Cross. Wilson stated in a September 1917 letter to children in the United States, "... more perfectly than through any of your other school lessons, you will learn by doing those kind things under your teacher's direction to be future good citizens of this great country."

In 1943, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt began a Red Cross tradition by declaring March as Red Cross Month to help raise money during World War II. Every March since then, the President has issued a proclamation calling upon our country to support the Red Cross by giving blood, volunteering time, or donation blood.

In addition, I thought this would be a good time to point out (in case you're getting tired of this snow and cold) that the Major League Baseball season starts at the end of March. No matter who you route for, it's pretty fun to watch the Presidents race at the Washington Nationals home games!

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