The Birth of the International Red Cross | Word Power


We always feel alarmed when we hear their sirens, but if we were the ones who called them, we would definitely feel relieved. We wish we would never have to need them, but when we do, we are so grateful to have them responding to our distress calls and in many cases save our lives or the lives of the ones we love. In today’s Word Power episode, we’re going to talk about the Birth of the International Red Cross, and we’re going to learn 10 new words in context.

Audio Podcast

The Birth of the International Red Cross

On June 25, 1859, a Swiss banker witnessed a battle and its aftermath—an experience that would change his life and the lives of millions more. Jean Henri Dunant was in Italy, hoping to get the authorization of Emperor Napoleon III to import windmills into what was then the French colony of Algeria. He never got his interview with Napoleon. Instead, the emperor and his ally, the king of Sardinia, mobilized troops against Austria in the hill town of Solferino. Dunant spent the days that followed the battle working among the thousands of injured soldiers. “The gentleman in white,” as the soldiers called him, knelt in the dust in his linen suit, bathing their festering wounds and offering sips of water.

On his return to Geneva, Switzerland, Dunant was beset with concern over the lack of organized medical care on the battlefield. Obsessed with the idea of trying to alleviate future suffering and hoping to arouse in others his own fervent conviction that Europe’s wounded soldiers should never again have to endure such dire suffering, he wrote a booklet titled A Memory of Solferino. In the final sentence, he set forth his plan in a question: “Would it not be possible, in time of peace and quiet, to form relief societies for the purpose of having care given to the wounded in wartime by zealous, devoted, and thoroughly qualified volunteers?”

Although the booklet aroused heartening interest throughout Europe when it was published in 1862, it moved a group of people in Geneva to take action. Philanthropists decided to form a committee to actuate Dunant’s ideas and asked him to be a member. During the fall of 1863, delegates from all over Europe discussed the societies of volunteers that would be trained to aid the wounded in time of war. When one doctor suggested that the volunteers wear a distinguishing mark as a signal that they were neutral civilians, the symbol of the red cross was born. The first national relief societies came into existence two months later in several German states. When they attempted to go to the aid of the wounded in a war between Prussia and Denmark, however, they were turned back by the distrustful military. The Geneva committee was discouraged; if the relief societies were going to achieve their purpose, an international agreement of a purely humanitarian nature had to be reached. In August 1864, the Geneva Convention did just that. By 1869, ten years after the battle at Solferino, hundreds of Red Cross societies were operating and twenty-two nations had signed the Geneva Convention. Within a single decade, Jean Henri Dunant had fulfilled his plan and lifted the conscience and compassion of a whole continent to a new level.

Interactive Activities






Crossword Puzzle

PDF Practice Worksheet

Are you serious about building your vocabulary?

Check out my Word Search Games and Activities book series.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Want more like this post?

Cuna Creations | Word Power

Cuna Creations | Word Power

Ever wondered about the exotic beauty of the Caribbean islands? Have you ever heard of the San Blas Island and the Cuna people who live there? Well, in today’s Word Power episode from English plus podcast, we will talk about the Cuna people, about something very specific, the mola, which is a famous Cuna creation.

The Art of Horace Pippin | Word Power

The Art of Horace Pippin | Word Power

In today’s Word Power episode, we will talk about the art of Horace Pippin. There are many things in this life that we call art, and art does not take our understanding of any of the intricacies of color, light and shade, or the many different techniques there are in art, and that’s why art is truly for everyone. You might have heard of Da Vinci, Picasso, Monet and other great and famous painters, but in today’s Word Power episode, we will talk about one of the less talked about great painters of the twentieth century — we will talk about the art of Horace Pippin, and we will learn ten new words in the context of our story for today.

Swamps Features and Creatures | Word Power

Swamps Features and Creatures | Word Power

This is what we are going to talk about in today’s episode, Swamps Features and Creatures. There might be very few horror stories that did not employ the swamp as part of its creepy setting in one way or another. Swamps have been infamous for hosting dangerous, and according to most accounts in fiction, evil creatures, so people would usually get the chills whenever they pass by a swamp, or even worse, if they have to spend the night in a swamp. How much of that is true, and how much of it is pure fiction?

Too Many Deer | Word Power

Too Many Deer | Word Power

Learn about what happens if there are too many deer in an area, or when our own overpopulation becomes a dangerous problem, and learn 10 new words in context in a new English Plus Podcast Word Power episode.

English Plus Bites

Are You Hungry?

Daily English Plus Bites are just a couple of clicks away...

Sign up and start receiving daily short learning emails which include idioms, reading, word power, common mistakes, grammar and more.

Unlock a world of learning delivered daily to your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest