Red Cross of Hawaii celebrates 100 years - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Red Cross of Hawaii celebrates 100 years

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Officially chartered as a chapter of the American Red Cross in 1917, the humanitarian work of the Hawaii Red Cross actually began as early as 1898, when 300 women, including Princess Kaiulani, cared for sick and wounded soldiers en route from the Philippines during the Spanish American War.

In 1917, Queen Liliuokalani sewed a Red Cross flag that soared above Iolani Palace during World War I, while volunteers rolled bandages in the Throne Room. When the flag was presented to the Territorial Governor on September 14, 1917, the Queen said "the flag is an expression of my warm and hearty sympathy for the cause of humanity."

Since their first membership drive in 1917, the Hawai’i Red Cross has continued to always be where it was needed and always ready to help those in need.  Over 16,000 people joined the Red Cross that day, or one-sixth of the entire population of Oahu.  Among them was Queen Liliuokalani, seated in a wheelchair on the lanai of her Washington Place home, who presented a $100 check to become a patron member. 

After World War I, the Hawaii Red Cross focused on first aid, water safety, and nursing programs. Throughout these years, the Red Cross assisted victims of floods, fires, and flu and measles epidemics. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, the Hawaii Red Cross, the only American Red Cross chapter in a combat zone, sprung into action.

For 100 years, the Red Cross has played a vital role in helping the people of Hawaii recover from every major disaster, from hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and air crashes. Through the generosity and support of Hawaii’s people, the Hawaii Red Cross will be here for the next 100 years, to provide comfort and hope to those in need.

In addition to Princess Kaiulani and Queen Liliuoukalani, Duke Kahanamoku was taught life-saving skills by the Red Cross and participated in a North American swimming exhibition tour to raise money for the Red Cross war effort.  In Kahanamoku’s spare time on the tour, he also knitted sweaters for the Red Cross war relief effort. Kahanamoku’s devotion to the Red Cross was likely inherited from his mother, who was a Red Cross volunteer. Duke’s wife, was a Red Cross volunteer during World War II.  Daniel Inouye was also a well-known Red Cross supporter.  During WWII, as a 17 year old Red Cross volunteer, Senator Inouye set out to help the injured and didn’t return home for 5 days.

For more information about the Red Cross, click here.

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