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red roses


Red is passionate. And love—which often commandeers the color red—was one reason Ross Ogden ’66 joined the American Red Cross as a high school junior. He wanted a way to meet more girls.

“It worked,” he laughs.

But he has stayed there 57 years for other heart-related reasons.

“Helping neighbors in need knows no boundaries,” says Ogden, who lends a hand however he can, in one case consoling a young sailor whose wife had just died. For his contributions, he received the Red Cross’s Harriman Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service in 2010, as well as Swarthmore’s inaugural Arabella Carter Award for community service.

The inverse of the Swiss flag, the Red Cross symbol is one of the most recognized globally. Ogden has witnessed the iconic emblem bringing expressions of relief and gratitude.

“I’ve seen this in action,” he says, “from those whose lives were destroyed by hurricanes to U.S. servicemen and women in Kosovo to a cancer patient receiving life-prolonging Red Cross blood and families reunited after 9/11.”

The simple act of helping people when they need it most—showing love—remains Ogden’s most powerful inspiration.

“In the end,” he says, “it’s neighbors, friends, and compassionate individuals who do the most to provide relief.” —KC


During the French Revolution, the presence—or absence—of red and blue on the cockades that adorned hats and jackets led to some gravely important actions.

“And beheadings!” says Megan Brown, an assistant professor of history at Swarthmore.

Most famously, news that troops loyal to the royal family had stomped on tricolor cockades while sporting white monarchist ones led working-class Parisians to march by the thousands to Versailles in 1789. (White was associated with the House of Bourbon, while red and blue meant a Paris connection.)

“In the tricolor cockade—and flag—we see the merging of those colors,” says Brown. “This should remind us that, at least in the early days of the Revolution, it was not evident that the king would be entirely excluded from future governance, let alone executed.

“We mark the passage of time not just by major breaks, but also by continuity,” she adds. “Tracking colors, especially as they’re used in symbols or rituals, is one way of seeing how groups of people attempted to harness traditions.” —KC

Garnet Strong

“Wearing the garnet ‘S’ represents a strong culture,” says Cameron Wiley ’19, the varsity men’s basketball team’s junior point guard from Atlanta.

Being Garnet, for the athletes and scholars at Swarthmore, could reflect the gemstone’s symbolism of strength. The original Swarthmore colors were changed in 1888, when, as the Phoenix later related, “at a mass meeting of the students, pearl and maroon were abolished, and after considerable discussion, garnet was unanimously chosen as the succeeding color.”

The Garnet’s Wiley, an honors philosophy major and history minor, was voted the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player in 2017 on a team that won the program’s first Centennial Conference Championship, but his transition to college athletics wasn’t easy: A concussion his freshman year kept him sidelined for several months.

“It was a frustrating period,” he says, “because I wanted to lead our team and see my goals come to fruition.”

He attributes his eventual success to a willingness to ask for—and listen to—advice ... and to be patient. After all, garnets are formed over time and under pressure.

“On our team, we have to hold each other accountable,” says Wiley. “That’s where the period of growth comes.” —KC