Strength of Human Spirit Amid War
Presidio of San Francisco (July 23, 2008) — The Presidio Trust and the American Red Cross Bay Area are bringing the impact of war on humanity to San Francisco in a powerful photography exhibit, 145 Years of Red Cross Photography: A Memory of Humanity. The free exhibit showcases 145 years of armed conflict around the world, as seen through the eyes of humanitarian workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Its one month stop at the Presidio Officers’ Club is the exhibit’s only California visit and its last U.S. stop before embarking for St. Petersburg, Russia.
“What hooked us on it is the history,” said Jeff Weik, public programs manager for the Trust. “It’s a retrospective of the Red Cross and its work protecting and caring for the victims of war, but it’s told from the point of view of those impacted by it, as opposed to either side.”
The Red Cross and photography both were born in the middle of the 19th century. As the Red Cross grew throughout the world, its workers captured what they witnessed on film. Of the more than 110,000 images collected at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva, 88 have been selected for the exhibit making its way around the globe.
145 Years of Red Cross Photography: A Memory of Humanity takes visitors on a moving, thought provoking journey from the battlefields of Solferino, Italy in the mid 1800s through the war in Iraq. The last pictures were taken in Yemen in 2005.
Presented chronologically, the images, both black and white and color, chronicle not only the pain, suffering and ruin of war, but also the comfort and kindness that can emerge in its aftermath.
“It’s a very stark depiction of what happens when you are a prisoner of war, when people are doing brutal things to one another and there is that hope that an organization like the Red Cross can help to protect the innocent who are in the middle of those terrible situations,” said Harold Brooks, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross Bay Area. “As you walk through the exhibit, the captions underneath the pictures tell a story of a humanitarian organization which I find at the same time heartbreaking but also it gives great hope.”
145 Years of Red Cross Photography: A Memory of Humanity runs through August 17 at the Presidio Officers’ Club Exhibition Hall, 50 Moraga Avenue, San Francisco. It is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm. Admission is free.
Three special programs amplifying the themes of the exhibition are open to the public. The first of those, Journalists on Dangerous Assignment, examines the role of the media in conflict areas and how the international community works to ensure the voices of those affected are heard through the chaos of armed conflict. Moderated by Dana King of KPIX-TV, the discussion will take place Friday, July 25that 2 pm. The second program, Providing Relief for the Displaced, will be held Thursday July 31 at noon. The final panel, Crimes of War, takes place Friday, August 1 at 2 pm. All three programs will be held in the gallery.
The Presidio Trust was established by the United States Congress in 1996 to manage the Presidio of San Francisco, a former army base located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The 1,500-acre site contains the infrastructure of a small city as well as expansive open space, a 300-acre historic forest, spectacular views, and rare and endangered plants and wildlife. It comprises nearly 6 million square feet of buildings, including 469 historic structures that contribute to its status as a National Historic Landmark District, making it unlike any other national park. In establishing the Trust, Congress mandated that it make the park financially self-sufficient by 2013. The Trust is the only federal agency with this mandate.
Governed by volunteers and supported by community donations, the American Red Cross Bay Area helps residents in six counties prepare for disaster, recover from them and connect U.S. military families torn apart by war, terrorism and natural tragedy. The chapter’s more than 1,700 personnel, 97 percent of which are volunteers, are all dedicated to saving lives. Every year, the American Red Cross Bay Area mobilizes relief to families affected by more than 500 disasters; trains more than 80,000 people in life-saving and preparedness skills; and exchanges hundreds of emergency messages for military, war and disaster-stricken families. Call 1-888-4-HELP-BAY or visit www.redcrossbayarea.org to learn more. The Red Cross provides nearly half the Bay Area’s blood supply. Call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543) today to schedule your lifesaving donation.”