Monday, March 24, 2014

CLARA BARTON...
saw a need and filled it... a truly remarkable woman

Life in the mid 1800's was filled with hard work and deeply rooted Christian beliefs. Political passions and a sense of right and wrong grounded these early Americans. But nothing in their lives could have prepared them for what was about to happen ...


The American Civil War 

Approximately 750,000 lives would be lost over a four year period. That is the equivalent of us suddenly losing two million Americans. No one predicted that number and NO ONE was prepared to deal with the casualties.

It would shatter almost every family and change the way the people viewed their government and the way the government viewed its responsibility toward its citizens.

Prior to the war there were no large hospitals, no ambulance system, no antibiotics and no information about the transfer of communicable diseases. There were no national cemeteries, no honoring the dead or pensions for the families. There was also no organized way to record the dead. All of that would change as Americans were stunned by the statistics of war.

People living at this time were keenly aware that life could be short and they had little or no control over when someone would be taken. They valued what they called the "GOOD DEATH" ... passing with loved ones around, final farewells, and being buried in a family plot. People were horrified as their loved ones lay rotting on battlefield and thousand and thousand were buried in unmarked graves. The notion of a "Good Death" was no longer available.



A government clerk working in the US patent office saw this overwhelming calamity and decided she would do something to help. Her name was CLARA BARTON.

When the Civil War broke out, she was one of the first volunteers to appear at the Infirmary in Washington where she cared for the wounded soldiers. When word came of the destitute conditions on the front and the shocking lack of medical supplies, Clara filled three army wagons with supplies and rode into the Battle of Antietam. There she found the surgeons trying to make bandages out of corn husks.

She was referred to as the "Angel of the Battlefield."

She made trip after trip, putting her life in danger while bringing aid to the Union casualties and the Confederate prisoners.. In 1864 as she was nursing a wounded soldier, a bullet tore through the sleeve of her dress. It did not strike her but killed the man she was caring for.

Burying the dead was a monumental task but identifying them was even more difficult. Clara worked tirelessly to aide the friends and families of missing soldiers by locating them among prison rolls or casualty lists.

She established the Bureau of Records of Missing Men and it was with her insistence that as many graves as possible were identified and marked.
By the end of the war she was exhausted. At her doctors insistence she went to Geneva, Switzerland to recover. There she discovered an organization called the Red Cross. She joined their ranks and even helped in the Franco-Prussian war in 1870.




Beyond her compassionate heart, Clara was a talented organizer. She had put people to work during two wars and now, upon her return and with the financial help of a friend she organized the AMERICAN RED CROSS and served as its leader for the next 20 years. She saw needs, she took action!

She was there in 1881 to aid the victims of a devastating forest fire in Michigan. In 1884 she chartered steamers to carry supplies up and down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to help the flood victims and in 1889 she and 50 volunteers rode the first train into Johnstown, Pennsylvania, to assist the survivors of a dam break that caused over 2,000 deaths.

Clara Barton spent her life helping others in times of catastrophe. She was a true humanitarian and a remarkable woman!

Watch this mini-biography about her life...