Dakota Datebook

Red Cross

 

On this date in 1917, the final total for selective service registration was announced. There were 64,124 North Dakota citizens registered. They also registered eighty-eight friendly aliens and six hundred and five enemy aliens, basically German nationals. Although it was twelve thousand short of projected, this did not include the four thousand men who had already enlisted or were serving in the North Dakota National Guard. Warrants were issued for five hundred identified slackers who had failed to register.

Meanwhile, President Wilson declared the third week in June to be dedicated to the American Red Cross. A. F. Clifford, chairman of the Grand Forks Red Cross Committee, reminded the citizens of the county that no government takes care of its wounded other than taking them by stretcher to the first aid camps. After that, the battle for the life or death of each man was up to the Red Cross workers who desperately needed financial aid to do their part. With sixty-five thousand men from North Dakota eligible for duty in the trenches, Mr. Clifford offered a somber statistic. Based on Canadian casualties so far in the war, he stated that one out of five soldiers from North Dakota sent to the front would be killed or wounded. The War Department provided a one in twenty ratio, but either way, the reality of war was coming home. These men were all “somebody’s boys,” their own sons or their neighbor’s. It was a hard selling point.

In Fargo, the Commercial Club set a quota of six thousand dollars a month for the city to raise in support of the Red Cross. A treasurer’s office was set up in a local bank to handle the contributions.

In Langdon, a 4th of July picnic was planned, with all proceeds going to the Red Cross. The Red Cross Chapter covering both Williams and McKenzie Counties was seeking to raise ten thousand dollars during the week. The Syrian Ladies Auxiliary and the Syrian Relief Fund donated $100. All citizens of the area were asked to become Red Cross members, with the membership fees donated to the national fund.

While men waited to be drafted, women were encouraged to sign up to become Red Cross nurses. Training was offered to provide nurses for battlefield hospitals and local care giving. Sewing circles worked to provide mufflers, socks and mittens. A Red Cross auxiliary could be set up with ten members. Pamphlets could be obtained on the art of rolling surgical dressings or providing other services. All across North Dakota every man, woman, and child was asked to do their part that week in support of the Red Cross.

Dakota Datebook by Jim Davis
Sources:
“Red Cross Week Committee”, Grand Forks Herald, June 18, 1917
“Williston Chapter Asked for $10,000 Share…” Williston Graphic, June 14, 1917
“Help the Red Cross,” Grand Forks Herald, June 25, 1917

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