When the Serbian Flag Flew Over the White House during WWI
By U.S. Embassy in Belgrade
via the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, Serbia web site
On July 28th in 1918, upon the advice of his good friend Mihajlo Pupin, President Woodrow Wilson gave the order to fly the flag of Serbia over the White House. This was one of a number of acts that reflected the solidarity of Americans with the Serbian people who suffered so tremendously during the First World War.
At the start of the conflict, thousands of young Americans of Serbian descent volunteered to cross the Atlantic and fight shoulder-to-shoulder with their cousins. Malvina Hoffmann’s famous poster urged people to make donations to assist the people of Serbia. Pupin, Mabel Grujić, and others collected not only money, but also thousands of tons of humanitarian aid for the poor and for displaced refugees from Serbia. The Columbia Relief Expedition, organized by Pupin, delivered medicine, food, agricultural tools, and seed to the war zone, as well as dozens of cars to deliver aid and also serve as ambulances.
Dr. Richard Strong, director of the Harvard School of Tropical Medicine and one of the world’s preeminent epidemiologists, headed the medical mission, organized by the Rockefeller Foundation and the American Red Cross, that came to Serbia to halt the deadly spread of typhus.
The philanthropist John Frothingham and his wife Jelena Lozanić donated a fully equipped field hospital sent to Skopje. After the war, the couple set up a home for war orphans in Vranje.
Dr. Rosalie Morton, special commissioner of the Red Cross, not only tended to Serbian soldiers on the battlefields. She also stayed behind after the war ended in order to set up the first women’s hospital in Belgrade.