It was Henry Dunant, a Swiss businessman, who initiated what we now know as the Red Cross. He was the first to propose that countries create organisations to provide help for the soldiers who are sick and wounded during wartime. He came up with this idea in 1859, as he travelled through Italy and saw the carnage that was left after the Battle of Solferino. With thousands of men lying wounded and abandoned on the battlefield, they would have remained there if Dunant hadn’t organised local villagers to help them.
Support From The Lady With The Lamp
Subsequently a meeting was held in London, in August of 1870, to discuss ways of aiding survivors. Colonel Robert James Loyd-Lindsay had written to a number of influential people, which included the foreign secretary Lord Granville, whom he asked for support. A message was sent to Colonel Loyd-Lindsay from Florence Nightingale, noting how he was on the right track. There were a number of resolutions passed, to create an organisation known as the National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War, with the name being changed to the British Red Cross in 1905.
It was called for the organisation to be based on the rules of the Geneva Convention, and also to adopt the badge and flag recognised by the International Convention of Geneva. This badge and flag being a legally protected symbol of humanitarian aid, showing a white background with a red cross. It was also decided that a ladies’ committee would be established, aid would be given to the wounded and sick of the belligerent armies, and sub committees of the organisation would be established. The aims of the Red Cross weren’t political, and thus wouldn’t make an attempt to interfere with state operations or military medical staff, but they would help relieve the miseries of war.
To begin with the first members included military officers, members of the House of Lords, and surgeons. Numbering 22, they formed to guide the fledgling organisation. Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Christian, headed the ladies’ committee, of which Florence Nightingale was also a member. Queen Victoria herself was Red Cross patron, and the Prince of Wales was the president, followed by Edward VII.
The first donations were received from a variety of sources, which included over 250 schools, funds from just under 140 concerts and events, over 5,824 parishes and congregations and even the royal family. These contributions ranged from only a few shillings to up to £1,000, but a number of them also included small trinkets and ornaments, which were sold in order to raise money. On top of this, clothing and packets of food were brought to the Red Cross office every day.
Universal Sign Of Help And Respite
From small beginnings, the influence and impact of the Red Cross is still felt to this day, with the immediately recognisable symbol acting as a universal sign of help and respite.
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