The importance of May 8th

Today, 8 May, is the birthday of  Henry Dunant , founder of the Red Cross and joint  recipient of the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.

Today, also, marks World Red Cross Red Crescent Day, which since 1948 has been celebrated internationally on Henry Dunant’s birthday.

Another celebration that takes place every year on 8 May is my father’s birthday. 🙂

Although the idea for the Red Cross arose  in 1859 and was formalised in 1863, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies was only established in 1919, in the aftermath of World War 1.  So the IFRC  was almost as brand new as my father when he arrived into the world in 1920.

In the  Christchurch Press, for the day of my father’s birth, there is an item which mentions the Red Cross Society in the US, providing hostess houses for the 3709 war brides of the American Expeditionary Force. The newspaper also has articles about ongoing peace and treaty negotiations and on war graves decisions, as well as the influenza outbreaks which were, once again, causing concern in New Zealand.  In 1920 the world may have been nominally at peace but the First World War was still very much a presence in everyday lives.  Yet there would, undoubtedly, have been an expectation that babies born after ‘the war to end all wars’ would live their lives in peace.

I am sure, my grandmother, holding her new-born baby, that day in May, did not  imagine that a couple of decades hence her boy would be in uniform.

 

In uniform; 1940s; my dad, closest to the kerb

In uniform; 1940s; my dad, closest to the kerb (Street Photography)

Nor would she imagine that, by the 1980s, her son would be working, in his post retirement years, for the Fiji Red Cross.

 

A favourite photo of my father at his Red Cross desk.

A favourite photo of my father at his Red Cross desk.

That’s the trouble with kids; you never know where they’ll end up or how they’ll turn out, but I think my grandmother would say she raised a good lad. 😉

Happy Birthday Dad. Happy Birthday Red Cross. You’ve both reached a grand age and I’m glad you have.

Postscript of fun facts: The Red Cross has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize three times ( four, if you include Dunant’s Peace Prize http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/themes/peace/libaek/index.html ).

© silkannthreades

 

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68 thoughts on “The importance of May 8th

  1. Miss Lou

    Such a beautiful post – so rich in family History! I’ve a few picture of my mother as a young woman, they always bring about a smile!

    Lovely, thanks for sharing!

    ML
    x

    Reply
  2. Daniela

    This post brought tear to my eye … my grandfather (who raised me) was born in 1919 but he is no longer around. I keep his war-time photographs I carried with me around the world from Croatia to NZ almost 20 years ago.
    It is a blessing indeed your dad is still around for you.
    All the Best to You Both,
    Daniela

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you Daniela. Our old photos are precious, aren’t they? Have you written a post about your grandfather? Did he live long enough to see you settled in New Zealand?

      Reply
      1. Daniela

        Indeed they are! I have not written specific post about my grandfather but my story ‘Lament’ tells (in a way) his/ours story. Unfortunately he did not live long enough to see me settled in New Zealand or to meet my daughter which remains a sorrow for me.

        Thank you for your kindness.

        Daniela

        Reply
  3. Marylin Warner

    What a wonderful post!
    This is a loving and lovely tribute to Red Cross and your father’s birthday and ongoing influence in your life. And it’s perfect that that it’s so near to Mother’s Day, and it is apparent that you were truly blessed by having such wonderful parents.
    Enjoy your dad while you can; make the most of every call and visit and response.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you Marylin. I spoke to both my parents last night and it was lovely to be able to do so. Thank goodness for excellent telecommunications. (I am old enough to remember the 3 minute toll calls of yester year and the hurried/harried conversations!) As a child, I always thought it was very clever of my parents to have a birthday and Mother’s Day so close together…..I was never quite sure how they had organised that. 😀

      Reply
  4. womanseyeview

    Nicely woven together…happy belated birthdays to your father and the Red Cross. Trying to kill time in Geneva one visit I reluctantly went to the Red Cross museum – what an eye opener! The role they have played through peace and conflict is a tribute to the better nature of human beings!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      How wonderful that you got to see the Red Cross museum. It looks like an excellent place to visit. I like the way the permanent exhibition is called the Humanitarian Adventure. And, whilst looking through the website, I discovered this clip of the amazing Shigeru Ban who designed our Cardboard Cathedral. < Thank you for letting me know about the museum.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Being 94 has its challenges. One of the aspects of the photo that intrigues me is that I am about the same age now as my father was then. I think if we were put side by side he would look the younger.

      Reply
      1. Tiny

        Yes it’s hard to be far away. I felt it in January when my dad suddenly was not doing well at all. But it’s lovely we can talk to them.

        Reply
  5. Clanmother

    Gallivanta – you have a remarkable way of weaving stories into stories that have relevance for us, today. There is a urgency that takes hold us us when we work together for peaceful outcomes. And you are so right – we bring our children into a world and they continue to make a difference. A wonderful and profound tribute to your father.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      With every new baby there is hope…and, although my father and his parents did experience another war, for the greater part of my father’s life he has been able to live in peaceful countries with great standards of living. And that is quite something.

      Reply
  6. Mrs. P

    Happy Birthday, Dad! ..and the Red Cross! Happy V-E Day.

    Interesting that you mention the influenza epidemic. Ancestry’s weekly survey last week had to do with whether people had family members affected in some way by the epidemic.

    Looking at the photo, you can see he really has that military step down perfectly.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      A military step and polished shoes! How interesting about the Ancestry survey. My grandmother didn’t say much about the influenza epidemic but I think she helped with nursing sick ones. But you can imagine how worried people would have been when subsequent flu seasons began.

      Reply
  7. utesmile

    Happy birthday to your dad, and great connection with the red cross. you really never know where your children end up, but you always do the best to give them the love and confidence to do their best when they are grown up. And then we are proud parents!

    Reply
  8. gpcox

    I was here earlier, but was short on time. You must be so proud of your father! The coincidences between him and the Red Cross are remarkable indeed. An excellent post for today! 😉

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thanks gp. He’s a great Dad and has lived an interesting and varied life. I even found this youtube clip showing his brief foray in to the world of the film extra. < That's him in the yellow jacket (and glasses) at 58sec to 1.01. Then he appears briefly at 3.53 and again at 5.33. He was playing an official in International Velvet. :D

      Reply
      1. gpcox

        This was great, Gallivanta – even the music that accompanied it. Your father looked liked he belonged as one of the judges! And I have to say what magnificent horses they are, I hate to force them to jump when they’re skittish, but they’re beautiful just the same. That one girl, wasn’t riding her horse, the animal and she owned each other, they rode as a single unit.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I did see the entire film when it came out. My brother is also in the youtube clip but he doesn’t get as much air time as my father! The scenes were filmed in the UK where they happened to be at the time. The film reminds me of my father’s willingness to have a go at most things!

  9. Alexander Lautsyus

    Nice post about Red Cross and your Father. Today is one more important Date for the World. In 1945 by that Day the World War 2 came to an end in Europe. Winston Churchill named that day as a Victory in Europe.

    Reply
  10. Heather in Arles

    Such a touching and beautiful post. What would our world be like without the Red Cross? They go so far and have helped so many.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thanks Heather for your kind words. Always appreciated. This current world without the Red Cross doesn’t bear thinking about. They do great work in so many different areas.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It is isn’t it! And re the time of his birth; those post war years must have felt fragile …the end of the Great War didn’t formally end until 1921.

      Reply
  11. Travelling Kiwi

    Your dad is a man of many talents (I remember the amazing sausages he used to make). Thank you for giving us this glimpse into his life.
    And happy birhday to him. I hope he had a happy day. xx

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      The sausages, the sausage rolls, the cakes and the iced birthday cakes…..so many talents. My mouth is watering! I think he was having a quiet day.

      Reply
  12. Just Add Attitude

    Thank you for the mini history of the Red Cross, until I read your post and I had no idea who founded the organization or that the Red Cross was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize three times.

    Happy Birthday to your dad. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you. My Dad lives in Australia so I can’t be with him today. It’s nice to have a virtual celebration. Apparently the Red Cross is the only organisation/person/entity to receive the Nobel Peace Prize so many times.

      Reply
  13. dadirri7

    Happy Birthday to your Dad, thanks for a glimpse back in time, these are important memories that make us who we are today … we cannot tell what lives our children will lead can we?

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      We certainly can’t and that’s just as well really. Mostly we do what we can and then cross our fingers and hope for the best . 😉

      Reply

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