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