For anyone visiting Washington, D.C. during Red Cross Month, there will be a “Stories of the American Red Cross” exhibit at Union Station from March 6 through March 31. The exhibit will feature stories from people all over the country who at one time or another have been helped by the Red Cross.
The exhibit, donated by the international analog photography community Lomography and Union Station, is an extension of the Red Cross Storytellers Campaign. The campaign was created in partnership with the creative agency BBDO New York and Lomography. It tells the stories of people across the country, showing the entire scope of Red Cross work: blood collection and supply; support to America’s military families; help to vulnerable communities around the world; disaster relief; and health and safety training and education.
For a glimpse of the stories submitted, please visit redcross.org/stories.
HISTORICAL RELATIONSHIP The “Stories” exhibit is not the first time Union Station and the Red Cross have worked together. Completed in 1908, the train station has played an important role in some historic events, and the American Red Cross was part of some of this history.
As part of the inaugural celebration for President William Howard Taft in 1909, Red Cross canteen workers set up relief stations at several locations in the city, including Union Station.
U.S. troops were mobilized through Union Station during World War I, and the American Red Cross supported the soldiers as they passed through by providing canteen services. They were joined by prominent women in their efforts, including Eleanor Roosevelt and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson. According to the history of Union Station, reportedly Mrs. Wilson kept her husband, the President, waiting for her outside Union Station until she finished her duties at the canteen.
Canteen workers worked from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., serving as many as 15,000 men during each 24-hour period. From 1917 to September of 1918, 1,700,000 men passed through the canteen on their way to war.
Union Station was home to a Presidential Suite and over the years many famous dignitaries were officially welcomed to Washington in these rooms, including Queen Elizabeth of England. In July of 1918, President and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson allowed the suite to be used as a canteen area for soldiers. From February to October of that year, more than 432,000 men were served by Red Cross canteen workers.
Wounded WWI soldiers also traveled through Union Station on their way to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington for treatment. Red Cross workers assisted the wounded at Union Station on their way to the hospital, and additional Red Cross workers served the wounded when they arrived at the medical facility.