Pope Francis once said, “The cross is the word through which God has responded to evil in the world”. To challenge the evil and as a major contribution to peace just after World War I, an international commission known as International Federation of the Red Cross Societies (IFRC) General Assembly to League of the Red Cross Societies (LORCS) endorsed the World Red Cross Day as an annual event. This day is celebrated on May 8 every year where people pay tribute to individuals who participated in the Red Cross Movement and commemorate their contribution. This annual observance aims to support people who suffer from infestations of diseases, war outcomes and natural calamities. Local heroes are validated with humanitarian awards that have made an indispensable impact on protection of life and rescue. This day not only persuades people to protect their own lives but moreover, ensure dignity of the victims.
There are numerous ways in which the Red Cross Day is celebrated globally:
- Various communities are encouraged to take part in voluntary activities of human and animal protection.
- It is also celebrated through Blood Donation wherein, humanity is shown via saving the lives of people in need of blood.
- In addition, World Red Cross Day is also celebrated through fund raising and donations for individuals who are critical and fighting for life.
Interestingly, the theme for World Red Cross Day 2019 is “#love” which focuses on asking people what they really love about the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
On this occasion, let’s look at some interesting facts about World Red Cross Day.
- It marks the birth anniversary of Henry Dunant who is the initiator of the Red Cross and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the first recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
- The first Red Cross Day was officially and globally celebrated on May 8, 1948.
- According to IFRC, there are currently 190 countries who are members of this society from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.
- The Red Cross is one of the world’s most recognised symbols.
- The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement currently has around 12 million active volunteers making it the world’s largest humanitarian network. The IFRC does not recruit volunteers to work overseas.
- The National Societies addresses needs like emergency response, disaster preparedness, community-based health and care, first aid training and activities, restoring family contact for disaster victims, and youth and volunteer activities.
- The Red Cross has won the Nobel Peace Prize in the years 1901, 1917, 1944, and 1963.
- World Red Cross day was the outcome of the condition of the wounded soldiers that Henry Dunant happened to see in the battle field of Solferino, Italy in 1859 during the Franco – Austrian war.
- It was established by the Geneva Convention of 1864.
- According to the Indian Red Cross society, a bill was passed on 17th March 1920 to constitute a society in India as well and it became an Act on 20th March 1920.
- Red Cross on a white background is the Emblem of Red Cross, recognised in 1864 as the distinctive sign for medical relief teams on the battle field.