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The Man Who Imagined the Red Cross (video)

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A video tribute to the visionary founder of the Red Cross.

We remember Henry Dunant (May 8, 1828 – Oct. 30, 1910) as the originator of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, which helps the victims of war and disaster around the world. Inspiringly, Dunant, who grew up in Geneva, Switzerland, wasn’t a doctor or a nurse – he was simply a businessman whose parents raised him to believe that people should do their best to help those less fortunate.

On a business trip to Italy in 1859, he encountered thousands of dead and injured soldiers near the town of Solferino, where a massive battle of the Austro-Sardinian war had raged that day. Dunant, horrified, organized volunteers to help the wounded and dying. The experience convinced him that the world needed dedicated organizations that could care for the suffering in such circumstances of war.

He promoted the idea throughout Europe in the 1860s, and the result was the founding of the International Committee of the Red Cross – along with the First Geneva Convention, a treaty that set out the rules by which the victims of war would be protected.

Today, Dunant’s legacy extends to 190 national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which operate in partnership through an international federation still headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.