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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Relief for Undue Suffering

This Day in History: August 22, 1864
 

International Red Cross


We are all familiar with the American Red Cross, aka the American National Red Cross, founded in 1881 as a humanitarian organization but the origin of the Red Cross itself goes farther back. On August 22, 1864, 12 nations met in Geneva, Switzerland. The Geneva Convention of 1864 for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick of Armies in the Field was instituted at a critical period in European political and military history. The agreement, advocated by Swiss humanitarian Jean-Henri Dunant, called for nonpartisan care to the sick and wounded in times of war and provided for the neutrality of medical personnel.
The movement for an international set of laws governing the treatment and care for the wounded and prisoners of war began when relief activist Henri Dunant witnessed the Battle of Solferino in 1859, fought between French-Piedmontese and Austrian armies in Northern Italy. The subsequent suffering of 40,000 wounded soldiers left on the field due to lack of facilities, personnel, and truces to give them medical aid moved Dunant into action. Upon return to Geneva, Dunant published his account Un Souvenir de Solferino and, through his membership in the Geneva Society for Public Welfare, he urged the calling together of an international conference and soon helped found the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 1863. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)
The ICRC's Mission Statement
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence and to provide them with assistance.
The ICRC also endeavours to prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles.
Established in 1863, the ICRC is at the origin of the Geneva Conventions and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It directs and coordinates the international activities conducted by the Movement in armed conflicts and other situations of violence.
Why a red cross...

Also being proposed at the convention was use of an international emblem to mark medical personnel and supplies. In honor of Dunant's nationality, a red cross on a white back ground was adopted. This emblem represented the Swiss flag in reverse. As a result of his humanitarian efforts, Dunant was awarded the first Nobel Peace Prize being recognized as the Founder of the Red Cross. As with so many founders, inventors, etc., financial difficulties led Dunant into poverty and loss of social respect. At least gradual acceptance led to the recognition of his life's work even if it was during his aging years.


On to America...


Clara Barton –
steel engraving by John Sartain
en.wikipedia.org
Founded by Clara Barton in 1881, the American Red Cross has served exponentially providing emergency assistance, disaster relief and education inside the United States. Barton developed the idea for the American Red Cross after learning of the Red Cross in Europe. As a nationwide non-profit organization, it boasts a rich history spanning more than 130 years yet it has not existed without its share of controversy. Being completely non-profit, the Red Cross depends on the generous contributions of time, blood and money from the American public to support its lifesaving services and programs.

 The mission of the American Red Cross is heartfelt!

People count on the American Red Cross to help them through some of the darkest times in their lives. Each year, the American Red Cross immediately responds to about 70,000 natural and man-made disasters in the U.S., ranging from fires to hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hazardous materials spills, transportation accidents and explosions. 

Although not a government agency, the American Red Cross also provides emergency and non-emergency services to the United States military. The most notable service is emergency family communications, where families can contact the Red Cross to send important family messages (such as a death in the family, or new birth). It also works closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs.