Red Cross

Dunant was the son of a rich businessman. As he grew, he had to travel extensovely in connection with his business. One such trip took him to the Lombardy plains in Italy in june 1859.
The Emperor of France, Napoleon III, helped by the king of Sardinia, was at war with Austrai. Dunant hoped to meet Napoleon and get permission for a business project. It was a
beautiful spring night. Dunant was fast asleep in an Castiglione de la Pieve, a town in Northern Italy. Suddenly around 3 a.m., he was awakened by the sound of artillery fire. The sound
came from nearby Solferino, a small village with lass than a thousand inhabitants. The firing grew louder. The Battle of Solferino has begun. Dunant leapt out of bed and hurried towords
Solferino. He perched on on top of a hill from where he got a clear view of the battlefield. Below him on the plains over a ten-mile strech, 300,000 men faced one another. On one side
were the Franch and sardinian soldiers in their colourful uniforms and on the other the Austrians. Dunant stood there for hours utterly absorbed. Dawn broke. Lances hleamed as they
caught the rays of the Sun, deums rolled, trumpets sounded, muskets cracked. The scene was alive with movement. Galloping horses and tramping feet raised clouds of dust. The smoke
of bursting shells soon created a thick screen. But as the Sun rose in the sky, Dunant caught an occasional glimpse of the drama below. The opposing armies rushed at each other like
wildbeasts. Grenades and bombs were flying fast. Those who managed to escape these were either killed by however, moved about fearlessly in the battlefield, comforting the wounded.
He was abbe Laine, Napoleon III’s chapain. Some woman too gave the wounded water as they cried piteously in therst. Dunant could see black flags flying in the distance. They marked
the sites of field hospitals where the wounded were taken for first aid. Though it was agreed that no one should fire towards these hospitals, shells often hit them. Even ambulances and
doctors were not spared. The fighting continued for fifteen hours. Then the sky became overcast. Thunder roared above the sky. One of the cries of the worst storms in memory raged
and put an end to the fighting. The Austrians withdrew. The Battla of Solferino came to an end. When darkness descended, many officers and soldiers bagan searching for their missing
comrades among the dead and wounded. When they recognised someone, they knelt down and said a prayer or shed a tear. Injured friends were taken to haspital. The Sun rose the text
moring to reveal a horrifying sight. The corpses of men and horses covered the battlefield. Fields were devastated, orchards laid waste. Fences were broken, fram walls riddled with huge
holes. Helmets, belts, tins, knapsacks, guns and cartridge boxes littered the battleground and the road to Solferino. The losdes in the battle has been enormous. Over fifty thousand men
had been killed in only fifteen hours of fighting. Thousands lay wounded, mutilated and in the throes of death. The Quarter Master of the army and his assistant put the wounded on
stretchers or chairs saddled to mules and took them to the field hospitals from where they were transferred to the nearest town. By noon the little town of Castiglione was jammed with
almost six thousand badly or wounded soldiers. Every church, convent, house, public-square, courtyard,street or pathway had beenconverted info a temporary haspital. And still the
convoys carrying the wounded continued to pour in. The local authorities were unable to cope with the situation. There were no more beds for the wounded. Thought the people Gave
generously, and water, food and lint were available. there were not enough people to distribute them, nor to help dress wounds. Most of the army doctors were in Cavriana, a nearby
town. There were also aery few medical orderlies. Confusion reigned and the injured cried out in pain.
At first Dunant watched this scene helplessly. But soon he was overcome with shock and anger. Something had to be done. The wounded couldn’t be left to die like this, he said to
himself. A volunteer service had to be organised immediately. Dunant knew that the neighbouring hospital were full and that he could expectno help from them. So he got together as
many civilian doctors and volunteers as he could and, taking them to church at Cstiglione, set to work.
Water was brought from fountains and farms to relieve the thirsty. Floors were swept and washed. Little boys went from door to door begging for soup. Women brought soap, linen and
sponges. Dunant sent his coachman to brinng in supplies of tobacco, lemons and oranges from the neighbouring town Brescia. Wounds were washed and dressed. Pipes were filles and
glasses of refreshing lemonade passed around.Hour after hour Dunant worked, his white summer suit splattered with blood, screams of pain ringing in his ears. But soon, all the wounded
were put on straw pallets which were arranged in rows so that even by candlelight the doctors could move about easily.Dunant walked between the rows offering sips of water and words
of sympathy. He filled pipes and cleaned and blandaged wounds. The soldiers named him ‘The Gentleman in White’
Meanwhile more volunteers arrived. An ex-naval officer and a couple of English tourists who had entered the church out of curiosity were persuaded to stay and help. A Swiss merchant
came for two days and spent his time writing letters for the dying men to their families.
Most of the women volunteers were totally untrained. But their gentleness and care gave courage to those in pain. They, however, only tended the French and Sardinian soldiers whom
they regarded as friends. The wounded Austian soldiers were left to suffer. Dunant, who saw the human being in everyone, attended on all. “but he is an enemy,” exclaimed one peasant
women as he bent to comfort an Austrian soldier. Dunant, straightened himself, put his hand on her shoulder and looking into her eyes said quietly, “The enemy is a man.”They way in
which Dunant said these words impressed the woman and the other volunteers. They began to follow Dunant’s example. Water was offered to the Austrians and cold compresses applied
to their foreheads. “Tutti Fratelli! Tutti Fratelli!” shouted a woman. “They are all brothers!” Everyone took up the cry and the message echoed and re-echoed through the church.
But after a while, the zeal of the colunteers beginning to wane. One by one they began to leave. The misery of the patients was beginning to depress them. Besides, they were needed at
home and some of the soldiers had a long recovery ahead. As the days went by, many soldier died, others were moved to bigger towns and hospitals. Dunant appealed for the release of
captured enemy doctors, pleading that they must be considered neutral. Napoleon agreed and the Austrians got black their doctors. Though fresh cartloads of the wounded continued to
arrice, order was grandually restored and the city’s services began once again to fuction effectively.
Dunant went back home, but could he have forgotten the misery and suffering that he had witnessed there? He sure that the situation in Castiglione would have been far less tragic if he
had a hundred experienced and qualified volunteer orderlies and nurses to help him. He had seen that the zeal of the townspeople could not be utilised properly as their gifts and enthusiasm
could not be put to better use. Dunant thought about this day and night, neglecting his business, and he weote a books, A Souvenir of Solferino. In this book he gave a detailed account of
the Battle of solferino and the suffering that foollowed. He took 12 months to complete it, and it was published in 1862. It contained a passionate appeal againt the inhuanity of war. To
date, it remains one of the most vivid and moving accounts of war ever written. Dunant distributed thousands of copies of this book all over the continent. All those who red it were
aquainted with the horror of war as well as the pitiful inadequacy of the few hwlpers who were there to help the wounded. A favourable atmosphere was created as a result becouse wars
were frequent those days, and every family had lost husbands and sons. As the similar-thinking heads got together, a confernce was held in 1863 in which fourteen countries sent their
delegates, and another conferece was held in 1864 in which fifteen countries sent their delegates, and as a result of this, an international Convention was signed accordin to which the
governments were bound to serve the sick and wounded army personnel in times of war irrespective be attackes, and prisoners of war would be exchanged wherever possible. It was
also decided to adopt a red cross on a white background as a symbol of neutrality. This symbol was chosen as it could be easily recognised. All counttries were asked to form volunteer
units which would help the sick and wounded during a war. The units were the forbearers of the Red Cross Societies of today It was in 1867 that the official name Red Cross Society
was adopted. It took its motto as ‘Inter Arma Catitas’ or ‘ Charity in the Midst of Battle’
At present, the Red Cross Society looks after the suffering people not only during wars but also naural disasters. It also has a junior wing in which young volunteers help the people of
villages and towns with their work, such as levelling roads, cleanliness drives and helping them in many other ways. Let us tell you about Dunant once again. As he neglected his business
he become a bankrupt by 1867. To avoid any damage to the cause which was near his heart, he resigned from the commitee. The commitee to prosper and forgot all about Dunant.
Penniless Dunant started to lead a very simple life. A press report revealed his sacrifice and he was co-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901 , but he donated the money to the society,
and continued to lead a very simple life, until his death in 1910. His ideals have united millions of people all over the world. Red Cross symbolises a unique brotherhood in th history of
man. The birthday of Dunant, 8th may, is celebrated as the World Red Cross Day every year.

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