Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Clara Barton House

Ward exploring around the Clara Barton House. Notice both the American and Red Cross Flags.
Ward and I recently visited the Clara Barton House in Glen Echo, Maryland. The weather was sunny, but breezy for our outing and while Ward found this invigorating, I found it cold. However, as we were walking outside around the grounds before the house tour, we found some peonies blooming and a lone purple blossom on a vine . The find of those flowers made the cold wind worth it for me. The house tour was free because this site is part of the National Park Service. We had a very good tour guide and learned a lot during our hour long tour.

A welcome sign of spring outside the house.
I have tried several times to summarize what we learned about Clara Barton. However, she was too complex of a person to do justice with on this blog. I'll just tell you a few of things that I found interesting.

--In 1881, Clara Barton started the American Red Cross after gaining fame by taking supplies to the front lines during the Civil War. 

--Clara was the one that first established the Red Cross as an organization that brought relief to areas during times of natural disaster. Before this, it was only focused on soldiers.

--Clara thrived under dangerous and risky situations. War zones invigorated her and she did some of her best work there.She also liked being in charge and didn't deal well with criticism or transition.

--Clara had to be very determined because she lived during a time that women were not allowed much responsibility. For example, she was not welcomed by the military to take supplies to the soldiers on the battlefields during the Civil War. She had to do a lot of lobbying to be able to do it, and Senator Henry Wilson, chairman of the Military Affairs committee, finally gave her permission.

--When she was in her 80's, some said she was too old to sit all day to do the work that needed to be done to run the Red Cross. To prove them wrong, she cut the back off of her chair to show that not only could she sit for long periods, she could do it with no chair back.

--The house we toured was modeled after warehouses that were built for the aftermath of the Jonestown flood.

--The house ceilings were lined with muslin instead of plaster—the same material used for bandages.

--It was good to get and do something different for a change.