Battlefield of Solferino
For more than one hundred years, in all continents
and practically every country in the world, during war time or in peace,
the Red Cross has groups of millions of goodwill people. Red Cross was
born in June on the Battlefield of Solferino in Northern Italy
in the mind and heart of a young man named Jean-Henry Dunant.
Jean-Henry Dunant was born in Geneva in 1828. He
was by profession a Swiss Banker.
In 1859 in the course of business he happened to witness the Battle of
Solferino during Franco-Prussian War.
The appalling slaughter, the suffering and anguish of the wounded and,
maimed and the sorry plight of prisoners moved Dunant deeply.
He wrote a book in 1862 titled, "A memory of Solferino".
Describing his ideas of a Society of each nation to aid the wounded and
in case of conflict of arms, to help the military medical services with their
task. Henry Dunant's visionary idea based on his concept of Brotherhood of
Man led to the formation of a committee of five in Geneva in February 1863. This
committee which included Dunant, examined his idea and formulated the basis for
calling the first international conference of the Red Cross in 1863 in Geneva.
The meeting was attended by representatives from 16 states who agreed that as a
first step, private aid Societies linked with one another should be set up in
each state. In August 1864 diplomatic representatives from 17 nations met again
in Geneva, this time at the invitation of the Swiss Federal Government, agreed
on the first Geneva convention, which 12 of the nations signed
By this famous convention, they were incorporated into
international law the principles and precepts underlying Dunant's ideas. The
principles were recognised that it is the duty of warring nations to care for
the ill and wounded military personnel irrespective of nationality and that
these personnel, the ambulances and hospitals in which they lay, and the medical
and auxiliary staff tending them should be regarded as neutral under all
circumstances and at all times. This has become one of the great and respected
principles of modern Humanitarianism. In recognition of the home land of these
humanitarian ideas the new movement took as the emblem of its neutrality the
national emblem of Switzerland in reverse a Red Cross on a white background.
Today this emblem carries instant recognition all over the world. Dunant died in
1911 - buried in an ordinary ceremony - seemingly forgotten but the fruit of his
labour has neither been in vain nor forgotten. The Red Cross/Red Crescent is for
the people a light in the darkness, we owe a debt of gratitude to the pioneers
who lit up this beacon. It is the duty of every Red Cross/Red Crescent member to
see that this light does not go out. Now every year on May 8, the Malaysian Red
Crescent Society will join with other national Red Cross Societies throughout
the world in commemorating World Red Cross Day. The day that marks the birthday
of a man who was most instrumental in founding this international chain of Red