It was 1859. A war was raging in Europe. Henry Dunant, a Swiss businessman, was travelling to the heart of the battle in Solferino, Italy. He wanted Emperor Napolean III’s approval on some business matters.
When he reached Solferino, Dunant found thousands of soldiers lying injured on the battlefield – uncared for and suffering. Dunant was a humanitarian at heart. He quickly organised help to care for the injured soldiers.
When he returned home, Dunant wrote a book on his experiences in Solferino. In that book, he called for the establishment of a world organisation, which would provide medical assistance to soldiers on the battlefield. The organisation would be neutral and would care for all soldiers regardless of what side they belonged to.
Many considered the idea impractical. But Dunant set out meeting with world leaders and succeeded in establishing an organization, which ultimately led to the creation of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The Red Cross, as it is commonly known, is an organization which provides care for the injured in armed conflicts such as war as well as natural disasters and health crisis. The Red Cross’ flag is white with a red cross in the middle. It helps identify medical workers on the battlefield.
Dunant suffered losses in his business later in life, ultimately shifting to a hospice. However, he continued to live a life full of dignity and service. In 1901, Dunant received the first-ever Nobel Peace Prize. His birthday, May 8, is observed as World Red Cross Day.
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