By Jody Weyers, Volunteer and Communications Director.
The image of the Red Cross Nurse has been part of our Red Cross brand, imagery and history for more than 100 years. I never realized the formality and the regulations that went along with wearing the uniform until last week….
I was in my office, when a past volunteer, Darryl, stopped by and he was wondering if I could help him with a request. He was visiting friends in Minnesota, and Lillian, who was in her 90’s, knew that Darryl volunteered with the Red Cross. She was telling him how she had the nursing pin of her dear friend Marion Eastwood, of Gowanda, NY who had passed away. She asked Darryl if he could help her return the pin to the Red Cross because that was the directive given to nurses who received the “badge”.
Darryl asked me if I could find out who it should be returned to. Of course, I said I would find out what to do with it.
I first contacted Mary Kellam, Associate, Nursing & Health, in Washington DC. She told me that it has indeed been tradition for nurses to return their American Red Cross RN pins (formerly called badges) to the American Red Cross upon their passing. She also attached for me the regulations nurses receive upon being issued their “badge”.
In doing additional research on the internet, I also came across how the badge came about:
The Nurse Badge (pin) was adopted and first ordered in 1906, in a design derived from the American Medical Association pin, with the addition of the laurel wreath on the outer edge. Numbering of the badges did not begin until 1909.
Since that time until present, each nurse enrolled as a Red Cross nurse receives a numbered badge and enrollment card, and the regulations for wearing the badge or the American Red Cross Nursing Service. The badge and card always remain the property of the American Red Cross, protected by an Act of Congress. The badge must not be worn by any other person than the person to whom it is issued. There are clear regulations for the disposition of badges at the end of the nurse’s enrollment. The nurse, relative, or administrator of the estate, should return the badge to National Headquarters, or the nurse may choose to be buried with the badge.
I am happy to say Marion Eastwood’s badge No. 226482 is now safely back where it belongs.