Recently there was a cartoon on social media stating that, as humans, we’ve come full circle. The illustration showed hieroglyphics on the left and emoticons on the right! Emoticons (and emojis) speak for many of us in the land of short hand on texts, emails, and social media, but it’s the “icon” that caught my eye.
Icon, from the word iconography, is itself a short hand word. Not only are symbols icons, but people are too, and movies or books or art work may be iconic. In this connotation, it means something that stands out or apart from the rest. It has import and meaning and sets a standard to be followed.
Celebrating the nation’s birthday this month, we Americans take quite a few “icons” to heart. We proudly wear flag pins on our lapels, we understand the relevance of the stars and stripes and sometimes we dress with them on our clothing. The Founding Fathers are icons, as are the men and women, active duty or retired, who dedicate their lives to preserving our freedoms. The national anthem may be difficult to sing, but it is iconic. For those of us living in today’s world, we may better appreciate Lee Greenwood’s Proud to Be an American or Toby Keith’s American Soldier or even Billy Ray Cyrus’s Some Gave All. We are unabashed in our patriotism. And, we wear those icons well.
For those of us in service to our communities through the American Red Cross, we too, proudly wear our icon, the red cross. This icon is universally understood and comes not only with pride and responsibility for those who wear it, but also with an understanding and expectation from those we serve. The red cross icon radiates hope and help for those in need, it represents our desire to give back to our communities in the most difficult of times, and it represents a strong family bond for Red Cross volunteers and staff.
Who knows if we’ve really come full circle, back to a time when pictures could and did serve as a written language? I see the humor in that cartoon. While we may be too busy to write the written word instead of symbols in our everyday world, we are not too busy to stand with our country as we wear its icons, and, we certainly are not too busy to don our red crosses and venture out to help others. And that brings great pride and comfort. Those red crosses help us stand out from all others, setting a standard of excellent care.
Katy Hagstrom | Executive Director
American Red Cross