Monday November 9, 2020 Smile for the Day: The Red Cross

On Today:

The Red Cross received the first of three Nobel Peace Prizes. A bit of history: On 24 June 1859, the Battle of Solferino was over; with it more than 30,000 soldiers had lost their lives, and thousands more had been wounded and maimed. A young Swiss businessman named Henry Dunant happened to witness the battle, and the sufferings and lack of medical treatment he observed, made a profound and lasting impression on him. He swiftly mobilised the local people into action, setting up crude infirmaries in churches, monasteries and makeshift tents. All the wounded soldiers, regardless of which side they were fighting on, were given care. “Tutti fratelli” – they are all our brothers, said the women who helped Dunant at Solferino. The germ had been sown.

After Solferino, Dunant returned to Switzerland. His experiences from witnessing the battle and the relief efforts he had organised inspired him to write A Memory of Solferino (1862), where he launched his plan: in times of peace, all nations should establish voluntary relief societies to aid sick and wounded soldiers during times of war. The objective was that all soldiers – whether friend or foe – should receive medical care. The book was printed at Dunant’s expense, and with a preface written by the Swiss general Guillaume-Henri Dufour it was spread to national leaders and influential politicians throughout Europe.

Dunant’s book was translated into a number of languages, and his simple yet realistic idea had great appeal. In the autumn of 1862 he was approached by Gustave Moynier, a lawyer who was president of the Geneva Society for Public Welfare. On their initiative a committee was formed in February the following year, with Dunant, Moynier, General Dufour and two physicians as its members. Thanks to the committee’s efforts and Dunant’s skills of persuasion, an international conference was held in Geneva in the autumn of 1863 with delegates from 17 countries. At the end of this conference, on 29 October 1863, the International Committee for the Relief of the Wounded was founded (now the International Committee of the Red Cross), composed of the five Swiss members that had convened in February.

A red cross on a field of white was adopted as the emblem of the organization, and national Red Cross societies were to be set up in each of the countries represented at the conference.

The newly established committee wasted no time. Delegates from a number of countries convened in 1864 to adopt the first Geneva Convention. Under this convention, all medical installations in the field in time of war are to be granted immunity as long as they provide shelter for the wounded, and medical personnel are to treat all wounded persons impartially, under the protection of badges and flags displaying the Red Cross emblem. In the course of the following two years, twenty states had ratified the convention. Dunant’s idea had taken hold. ( ).

First, a Story:

My wife asked me if she could have some peace and quiet while she tried to cook dinner.

So I took the batteries out of the smoke alarm.

Second, a Song:

There are many iconic songs about peace, John Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance arguably the one that comes immediately to mind. But I have to admit I have a big soft spot for Bob Marley – his music is that of the people and to me, comes straight from the heart and soul and just resonates.  

Here is “One Love” by Bob Marley for UNISEF. I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” – Bob Marley

Have a great day!

© 2020 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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