Celebrating the Red Cross of Alaska’s Centennial Year

Service Flag

2017 is the centennial year of the Red Cross of Alaska. To mark this milestone, we have resurrected the Service Flag first used by the American Red Cross for a membership drive in 1917 that had the goal of adding millions of new members. Major and minor magazines like Life, McClure’s, National Geographic, Brooklyn Life, and Prairie Farmer donated advertising space to feature this flag and other advertisements to raise awareness of the campaign. Maybe more importantly, the message was voluntarily spread by local newspapers, churches, and even Boy Scout troops.

Within a month of starting the campaign, over 15 million people joined the American Red Cross, bringing the total number of Red Cross members in America to over 20 million. Alaska alone enrolled 20,000 new members or about sixty percent of its non-native population.

Today, the American Red Cross does not have dues ($.25 for youth, $1 for adults in 1917) or think of people who support its mission as members. However, we do think that the people who donate their time, energy, and money to our mission would be the equivalent of membership a century ago.

If you fall into this broad category and would like to show your support of the Red Cross of Alaska, why not print one of these flags and hang it somewhere noticeable—perhaps in your living room window, on the refrigerator, or in your office. We even have smaller versions if you want one for your car, coffee mug, or to use as a bookmark.

Have more than one Red Cross volunteer in your house? There was and is a flag for that. Download and print one of the flags with a second, third, or fourth cross.

It is a bit unclear whether you should hang the service flag vertically or horizontally. The advertisement shown above, from an issue of Forbes in 1918, shows vertical, but an image in the Red Cross Bulletin from November 1917 shows horizontal. We’ll let you decide which works best as long as you tell people what the flag means: “I support the Red Cross of Alaska.”

If you are using a computer or laptop and want to download one of the flag images in the slideshow below, just right click on the one you want to use, scroll to Save Image As, then save it to a folder. Print, share, enjoy!

This month we will celebrate our centennial in Juneau at our Flirting With Disaster evening out fundraiser. Join us Friday, Feb 17 at 6 p.m. at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. Tickets are available online here: https://jahc.org/ 

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