Downtown Fredericksburg’s historic Market Square was filled with music from the 1940s Saturday as the Fredericksburg Area Museum and the Rappahannock Area Chapter of the American Red Cross partnered for the first time to celebrate Spirit of ’45 Day.
The event, which encouraged people to donate blood to the local chapter, was a part of the museum’s ongoing Second Saturday series, so named because it takes place on the second Saturday of every month.
People trickled through Market Square throughout the day. Red Cross had about 27 donors by 1:30 p.m., with two-and-a-half more hours to go.
Attendants were encouraged to come dressed in clothing from the 1940s. Libbie Furrow, 12, attended the event dressed as Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross.
Libbie’s mother, Katie Furrow, made the costume for her for Halloween when Libbie was in the second grade. Libbie’s interest in Clara Barton started when her school had a unit on the Civil War.
Fredericksburg resident Mayo Carter dressed up for the event in a traditional Red Cross uniform. Carter used to run a USO dance and blood drive every year when she worked as a teacher in Spotsylvania County.
“I think the biggest takeaway I could say about everything is that back then everybody was involved. It was a huge community effort all across the country to do your part and so blood donations would certainly have been a great part of that,” she said.
Theresa Cramer, the education and public programs coordinator for the museum, said the event drew a lot of families who came to share their stories with others. “If they can’t give blood, they can still learn and talk to their families,” she said.
The World War II-themed event had two blood donation buses running. There were also children’s activities, and panels across the square from a previous exhibit at the museum showed the war’s impact on Fredericksburg.
Children were able to create Red Cross hats out of paper and armbands out of cloth. At another table, they could mix together different parts of Kool-Aid to make “blood.”
Alexis Innis, the biomedical account manager for the Red Cross, said the massive stakes of World War II drew community members together as a collective to help each other and the nation.
“I think our partnership together with the FAM and Red Cross is another example of community groups’ members getting together for the common cause of just creating a safe, fun and inclusive community where people can come out, learn about Fredericksburg, learn about donating blood and really give something back that doesn’t really cost them anything but a few minutes of their time,” said Innis.
Ethan Young of Fredericksburg said giving blood was quick and easy. “Everybody thinks it’s going to hurt. It doesn’t and it is a fast process,” he said.
Young has been donating to the Red Cross on and off for 18 years. “I’m a universal donor, I’m O-positive, which means almost everybody can use my blood except for people with a negative RH.”
Helen Parham, the executive director of the Rappahannock Area Chapter, said she hoped the event gave residents a sense of their importance to the community.
“I think that an event like this displays to the community the role that they have in contributing to the community and what their contributions mean to the community as a whole,” she said.