Celebrating World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day May 8

By: Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

May 8th is World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, in which the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) collectively thanks its 13 million volunteers worldwide—about 2,000 of which are in Northern Ohio—for their dedication, bravery, kindness, and selflessness.

This day also coincides with Sound the Alarm, as American Red Cross volunteers and staff are helping area residents develop fire safety plans through doorstep visits. Please read this article for more information.

May 8th is the birthday of Henry Dunant, who was born in Geneva, Switzerland in 1828, founded the IFRC, and received the first Nobel Peace Prize. After witnessing one of the bloodiest battles of the 19th century, Solferino, and assisting in its aftermath, Dunant wrote A Memory of Solferino, published in 1862. After detailing the horrors of the battle and describing efforts to care for the wounded, Dunant offered a plan that the world’s nations form relief societies and appeal to everyone to volunteer. The following year the Geneva Society for Public Welfare appointed Dunant and four others to examine putting the plan into action. This began the foundation of the Red Cross. More on Henry Dunant is here

It would take more than a century, two world wars, and the 1918 flu pandemic before a Red Cross day would be created, however. During that time, the need and effectiveness of Red Cross societies became even clearer. Following World War II, the Board of Governors of the League of Red Cross Societies requested the study of an International Red Cross Day. It was approved two year later, and May 8, 1948 became the first commemoration of what we now know as World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. Further details are here.

In 2021, the Red Cross’s mission and services are as needed as ever, and the resilience, dedication, flexibility, and selflessness of its volunteers and staff has continued during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the past year has been especially active. In the US, 2020 had the greatest number of billion-dollar disasters in a single year. Here in Northern Ohio, the Red Cross has continued to respond to disasters—including more than three home fires every 24 hours, on average—collect and distribute much needed blood, teach life-saving skills, assist members of the armed services and their families, and help educate the community on home fire safety, virtually and with doorstep visits during tomorrow’s Day of Action.

We recently profiled a few extraordinary volunteers during Volunteer Week. As a Red Cross volunteer, I have been privileged to see such caring and dedication firsthand and have been honored to work alongside some of the kindest, most effective, and remarkable people I have met. Please see here if you would like to join us.

On this World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, we celebrate those who put the Red Cross’s mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering into action, each day.

If Ever There Was a Time, It Is Now

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross Board Member and Community Volunteer Leader

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A Kenya Red Cross volunteer leads the way through flood waters after torrential rains this year.
More than 210,000 people have so far been forced to flee their homes. Red Cross teams are
providing emergency relief, including health services and shelter, even as rising flood waters
continue to wreak havoc. Photo: Kenyan Red Cross

May 8 is World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is the world’s largest humanitarian network. It is neutral and impartial and provides protection and assistance to people affected by disasters and conflicts…and it sure seems that one day isn’t enough to reflect on these organizations and the services most of us take for granted.

Most Americans know that in times of crisis, the Red Cross is there. We know, inherently, that we will see them and their dedicated volunteers right alongside brave first responders in the midst of it all – from an international humanitarian crisis to a natural disaster, or closer to home, if we or our neighbors are affected by an emergency, such as a home fire.

“The International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement has a presence in 190 countries, including the United States,” said Jessica Tischler, Director of International Services for the Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region.  “That allows Red Cross Chapters to reconnect people with their families when they are separated by armed conflict, natural disasters, and other crises through our Restoring Family Links service.”

IRCRC

Many people feel we are living in troubled times. They may feel that we, as a nation and a world, are more divided than ever. Interestingly, however, it seems that In the midst of a crisis, people tend to pull together for the greater good. As I read the mission of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and their seven fundamental principles, I can’t help but think, ‘‘Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all set aside our differences and live within these guidelines in our everyday lives?’’

The principles are:

  1. Humanity
  2.  Impartiality
  3.  Neutrality
  4.  Independence
  5.  Voluntary Service
  6.  Unity
  7.  Universality

These principles are the result of a century of experience. Proclaimed in Vienna in 1965, they bond together the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. If ever there was a time to put these ‘golden rules’  into action in our world, our nation, and our communities – it is now.

Happy World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day! I’m proud to play even a small role in this wonderful organization.  Here are some incredible photos to honor the day.  For more information, please visit redcross.org.