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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                           (Tucson, Arizona)
For Immediate Release                                  February 25, 1999




For almost 120 years, the American Red Cross has served as a beacon of hope to those in need. Reaching out to victims of disaster, generations of Red Cross volunteers have provided shelter, food, and other essential services to relieve the sufferings of families and communities and help people begin the process of rebuilding their lives. Today more than a million dedicated men and women volunteer under the banner of the American Red Cross, upholding this extraordinary tradition of service and assisting people across our Nation and around the world to prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.

The strength and scope of the natural disasters that occurred during 1998 made this past year among the most devastating in recent history. Floods, tornadoes, winter storms, and wildfires ravaged communities across the Nation. Hurricanes Georges and Mitch caused record destruction in the Gulf States and Central America. In total, the American Red Cross responded to more than 62,000 disasters in 1998. Whether it was a fire that destroyed a family's home or a hurricane that destroyed an entire region, the Red Cross reacted immediately with compassion, generosity, and humanity.

Yet the Red Cross does more than cope with emergencies. During the past year, volunteers collected and processed nearly six million units of lifesaving blood for our Nation's hospitals and educated more than 11 million Americans through health and safety courses. The Red Cross also reached out to the men and women of our Armed Forces, their families, and our veterans, helping our military personnel keep in touch with home during family emergencies, offering confidential counseling and other support services, and assisting veterans in obtaining their benefits. In the past year alone, the American Red Cross provided more than 840,000 individual services to those who have given so much to protect our Nation and preserve our freedom.

During American Red Cross Month, as we take time to recognize this vital organization and all that it has accomplished, we can and should look forward with hope to the new century. For while we can never know the challenges we may face in the future, whether as individuals or as a national community, we do know that the American Red Cross will continue to serve, enabling us to meet those challenges and to recover from disaster. As Americans, let us sustain our long-standing support of the Red Cross and its humanitarian mission and renew our commitment to the ideals upon which it was founded. By reaching out with compassion and caring to help those in need, we can ensure a brighter future for our Nation and our world in the new millennium.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America and Honorary Chairman of the American Red Cross, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 1999 as American Red Cross Month. I urge all the people of the United States to show support for their local Red Cross chapters and to become active participants in advancing the noble mission of the Red Cross.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of February, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-third.


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