World Red Cross Day: why it is celebrated on May 8

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For his work, Henri Dunant received the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.

The date was chosen in honor of Henri Dunant, the Swiss businessman, philanthropist and humanist who founded the international organization in 1863.

Every May 8 is celebrated as World Health Day. the Red Cross largest and oldest humanitarian network. And this date has a first and last name: Henri Dunant. He was a Swiss businessman, philanthropist and humanist who founded the organization on February 17, 1863. And his work was so strong that in his honor it was decided that the day of his birth, which was the May 8, 1828 in Geneva, be seen to celebrate the establishment of the health organization.

All of Dunant’s work has not gone unnoticed in the world, to the point that the Swiss was chosen as the first winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Witnessing a bloody battle on Italian soil gave him the irresistible desire to found a non-governmental organization that would eventually become the Red Cross.

World Red Cross Day: the hero behind its creation

Henri Dunant was a businessman with a strong solidarity vocation. From an early age, Jean-Jacques Dunant (his father) and Antoinette Dunant-Colladon (his mother) instilled in him the values ​​of camaraderie and solidarity.

At just 18 years old, Henri founds in Geneva the “Thursday Association” an organization in which a group of young people met to study the Bible, help the poor and also visit prisoners in prison.

However, his life changed in 1853. That year, the company for which he worked sent him on a trip to Algeria, Tunisia and Sicily, where in addition to writing his first book, “History of the Regency in Tunisia”, he founded a corn cultivation and trade in Algeria.

The humanitarian aid of the International Red Cross is deployed all over the planet.
The humanitarian aid of the International Red Cross is deployed all over the planet.

Having problems with the granting of land, Henry asked the French Emperor Napoleon III to intercede, so he moved to Solferino, Italy, a small town where the Emperor’s entire army was located.

Dunant arrived in this Italian city on June 24, 1859, the same day that the Battle of Solferino took place a bloody battle between the Austrian and French armies that ended with thousands of deaths on both sides.

In the midst of desolation Dunant saw around 40,000 wounded soldiers in the middle of the Solferino battlefield, so he decided to help them. Under the motto “we are all brothers”, the Swiss he organized field hospitals and asked the local population to help him. It was there that the seed was planted which, shortly thereafter, would shape the spirit of the Red Cross.

On his return to Switzerland, Dunant wrote another book detailing what had happened at Solferino and also traveled around Europe seeking to create a neutral organization to care for soldiers injured in the various battles. Thus, in the end, the Red Cross was born.

World Red Cross Day: the first Nobel Peace Prize

In 1901, with the French politician and economist Frédéric Passy, Henri Dunant received the first Nobel Peace Prize.

“There is no man more worthy of this honor, for it was you, forty years ago, who launched the international organization for the relief of the wounded on the battlefields. Without you, the Red Cross, the supreme humanitarian work of the 19th century would undoubtedly never have been carried out,” commented the organizing committee of the prize then awarded to Dunant.

On October 30, 1910, Dunant died at the age of 82. His remains were buried in Switzerland. And in his memory, the Red Cross awards “the Henri Dunant medal”, the highest decoration offered by this humanitarian organization.

The Red Cross today

On the official website of the International Red Cross , the basics of this organization are clearly read. “The International Committee of the Red Cross, founded in 1863, works around the world to provide humanitarian aid to people affected by conflict and armed violence and to promote laws protecting the victims of war.

It is an independent and neutral institution its mission derives essentially from the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Located in Geneva, Switzerland, employs approximately 20,000 people in 100 countries ; its funding relies mainly on voluntary donations from governments and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies”.

Source: TN

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