33rd President. Typed letter signed (TLS) “Harry S Truman” AS PRESIDENT, July 8, 1946, 7×8.5, The White House Washington stationery, to Basil O’Connor, in full:
Thanks for your note of June 27th, enclosing me a copy of the resolution passed by the Red Cross in regard to my note to them.
Toning from previous framing, else fine.
Basil O’Connor, who had been Franklin D. Roosevelt’s law partner before his presidency, was serving as Chairman of the Red Cross.
The involvement of U.S. presidents in the American Red Cross goes back to President Arthur, who chartered the organization. In 1906, the organization added a largely ceremonial office of President to its structure, a title that was changed to Honorary Chairman in 1947. In 1913, Woodrow Wilson agreed to serve in this position, establishing a tradition followed by all subsequent presidents.
In 1943, Franklin D. Roosevelt issued the first American Red Cross Month proclamation, and March as Red Cross Month has been an annual tradition since. The proclamation honors people who make the lifesaving mission of the American Red Cross possible – the individuals across the country who turn compassion into action, helping others in times of crisis.
President Harry S. Truman continued this tradition. Taking office in April 1945, the March 1946 proclamation of American Red Cross Month was his first. On February 14, 1946, he proclaimed: “WHEREAS the American National Red Cross…continues to fulfill its manifold obligations to extend cheer and aid to our servicemen in distant areas overseas, to provide servicemen and veterans, and wounded and sick in hospitals, with solace and a link with home, and to maintain its traditional services of aiding victims of catastrophe, and of training men and women of our nation to combat sickness and accident and thus to reduce suffering and death; and WHEREAS new obligations have arisen to assist veterans and their families in the many difficult problems of return to civilian life and resumption of long-interrupted normal peacetime relations…and WHEREAS at this time when the foundations of peace are being established, the American National Red Cross by its very nature and purpose, and by its long record of humanitarian service, stands both as symbol and as tangible expression of the spirit of universal good will, recognizing no barriers in the unity of human welfare; and WHEREAS this organization, which represents the solicitude of our people for the care of its servicemen and its lofty ideals for the prevention of suffering, and which is entirely dependent on voluntary contributions to carry out its purposes, is issuing its nation-wide appeal for the contribution of a minimum fund of $100,000,000: NOW, THEREFORE, I, HARRY S. TRUMAN, President of the United States of America, and President of the American National Red Cross, do hereby designate the month of March 1946 as Red Cross Month, and urge every citizen of this country to respond to the utmost of his ability in support of this indispensable humanitarian cause.” On March 1, he spoke on the radio endorsing the Red Cross War Fund Drive, thus aiding it to generate contributions.
Three months later, on June 18, Truman followed up his proclamation and statement with a message to the opening plenary session of the Red Cross national organization’s four-day meeting. Because of its outstanding global work during the war, Truman told the Red Cross, it “can become a great force for unity among peoples of the world.” Basil O’Connor, who had been Franklin D. Roosevelt’s law partner before his presidency, and was a co-founder of the March of Dimes to fight polio, was in 1946 Chairman of the Red Cross. He responded to the Truman statement with gratitude.