Nurses serving with the American Red Cross in Paris, France, in May 1919
© Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Image
American Red Cross pioneers. International Nurses Day
While the uniform style has changed since these American Red Cross nurses proudly posed together in Paris, France, in 1919, the medical care and kindness provided by the profession the world over has remained steadfast. Today we’re celebrating International Nurses Day, which is observed on May 12 each year to turn a well-deserved spotlight on nurses and the contributions they make to society. The theme for 2022's observance is 'Nurses: A voice to lead – Invest in nursing and respect rights to secure global health.' It’s a fitting topic, especially when nurses have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more than two years, nurses have suffered from critical staffing shortages while facing a health crisis of tremendous proportions. For all that nurses have endured and for all they've contributed to our personal and collective well-being, we offer our heartfelt thanks.
The American Red Cross had already been operating for nearly 40 years when this photograph was taken in May 1919, soon after the end of the First World War. The American nurses had come to Paris to join other representatives from the National Red Cross Societies of the Allied Powers (United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Japan), with a joint goal to expand their healthcare activities to additional countries. Today, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is a worldwide humanitarian aid organisation that reaches 160 million people each year.