Origins: On Sunday,
The controversy began when the musical troupe's instructor, Cherilyn Bacon, was notified that the Red Cross had deemed part of their repertoire, "The Declaration" — a 1970 song by the group The Fifth Dimension with lyrics taken straight from the Declaration of Independence — unsuitable for the event.
The Red Cross' original statement on the issue, as displayed on its web site on
We used these same principles to develop the program to honor our volunteers this past Sunday who provide vital services to our community throughout the year. We certainly did not intend to hurt or offend anyone.
But the judgements we made in this case in applying our principles clearly offended some in our community. Principles should remain inviolate. But like many things in life, it is important to use reasonable judgement in applying principles to the everyday circumstances we confront. So, while our principles remain sound, the judgement we made to exclude certain songs from the Sunday program was a mistake.
We want to apologize to the community and to any people who were hurt or disappointed by our actions.
The Red Cross is woven into the fabric of American history. For more than
With the President of the United States serving as our honorary chairman, the American Red Cross does honor the freedoms of this country. Songs like "God Bless America," "America the Beautiful," and "The Star-Spangled Banner" are often celebrated within the American Red Cross at volunteer recognition events, official organizational meetings, and other Red Cross functions. National headquarters fully supports its own Red Cross Choir, which for several years has performed these and other inspirational and patriotic songs.
Recently, there was a misinterpretation of the Red Cross Fundamental Principles related to the planning of a Red Cross recognition event in California. This unfortunate incident resulted in an unintended affront to many of our supporters. The American Red Cross extends our deepest apologies to those we may have offended.
In the ranks of Red Cross volunteers and employees, there is wide religious and cultural diversity. In the spirit of inclusivity, these individuals help us establish celebrations for internal and external audiences that appropriately recognize all faiths and cultures. It is this spirit that allows the organization to maintain the public's long held trust that the Red Cross is always there to help.
The American Red Cross joins the millions of Americans who believe that America is, indeed, beautiful, from sea to shining sea.
Milbourn, Mary Ann. "O.C. Red Cross Honors Volunteers ." The Orange County Register. 11 March 2002. Milbourn, Mary Ann and Rachanee Srisavasdi. "Red Cross Decision Provokes Debate." The Orange County Register. 11 March 2002.