History of the Red Cross

Clara Barton
Clara Barton began the American Red Cross on May 21, 1881.

Are you celebrating a birthday this month? Do you know someone who is? The Red Cross will celebrate two very important birthdays this May.

First, it will celebrate the birthday of its founder, Henri Dunant on May 8th. In 1859, Dunant witnessed the destruction caused by the Battle of Solferino in Italy. He organized help for the wounded soldiers on both sides. Years later, Dunant proposed that all countries form societies to help people who are suffering during wartime and peacetime. It became the International Red Cross. Now, on May 8th, we celebrate Dunant’s birthday with World Red Cross Day.

The American Red Cross also has a birthday in May. It was started on May 21, 1881 by a nurse named Clara Barton. She served as a nurse during the Civil War. She worked with doctors on the battlefields. After the war, she traveled to Europe. She learned about the International Red Cross and how it helped people in need. She wanted to help people in the United States, too. She brought the idea of the Red Cross back home.

The International Red Cross (known as the International Red Crescent in Muslim countries) and the American Red Cross still help people today. They bring relief [supplies given to help people] to victims of disaster and wars. They provide medicine, supplies, and shelter.

What Do You Think? Can you think of ways to help people in need?

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