President Roosevelt’s statement opening the Red Cross Fund Drive
February 28, 1943, 4:15 p.m. EWT
Just a few weeks ago I was privileged to visit a part of the North African theater of war, and to see and talk with our soldiers and sailors who man that front. Among these men in North Africa are the sons and brothers and husbands and friends of many of you who are listening at this moment. I wish it were somehow possible to share my experience with you, because I know what it would mean to you to have the chance to clasp the hand of some relative or friend thousands of miles from home, and to wish him well.
There is one way for you, however, to reach this hand of love and friendship across the ocean. For wherever our fighting men are – all over the world – the American Red Cross is by their side, extending always the arm of helpfulness and comfort.
At home, we have grown accustomed to the role of the Red Cross in every national emergency, in every local catastrophe – a generous friend to those overtaken by tragedy. Even our enemies know about the American Red Cross, because it has never let international boundaries act as the limits of its mercy.
The American Red Cross begins today the greatest single crusade of mercy in all history. It is undertaking a task unprecedented- because this war is unprecedented. We undertake this greatest of all Red Cross crusades in the name of mercy – now that we are engaged in a war to decide whether all our concepts of mercy and human decency are strong enough to survive.
In the Axis nations, mercy and decency are regarded as synonyms for weakness and decadence.
In our land it is from our great tradition of mercy that we take part of our strength.
Each one of you who has a friend or relative in uniform will measure the significance of this crusade in your own heart. You – at your house today – know better than anyone else what it means to be sure that the Red Cross stands at the side of our soldiers or sailors or marines wherever they may be. All of us one hundred and thirty millions – know how indispensable to victory is the work of this great agency which goes on every minute of every day – everywhere on earth where it is needed.
By proclamation, I have designated the month of March as Red Cross Month. To make sure that every American boy on every fighting front has everything he needs which the Red Cross can supply, it will require at least one hundred and twenty-five million dollars.
That is all that we need to know – we will not fail.