161 years ago, Frenchmen and Sardinians fought against the young Austrian emperor Franz Josef, in order to drive the Habsburgs out of northern Italy. The horrors witnessed by Henry Dunant in the wake of the Battle of Solferino on June 24, 1859 and his ensuing humanitarian appeal led to creation of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, which today comprises 192 National Societies with 14 million members, as well as the two international bodies – the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Every year since 1995, thousands of volunteers from all over the world gather together in Solferino, Italy where the idea of the Red Cross was born, to celebrate the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement. Solferino 2020 will not only be a time of shared festivities, but also an opportunity for training, meetings and exchange of culture. 2019 marked the 100th anniversary of the IFRC! The United States is proud to be one of the five founding national Red Cross societies along with France, Great Britain, Italy and Japan. These countries knew that many more lives could be saved and improved by working together, sharing knowledge and resources.
The signature event of Solferino 2020 will be the fiaccolata, the traditional torchlight procession from Solferino to Castiglione delle Stiviere, along the same route taken by the rescuers who carried the wounded during the battle.
Any Red Cross or Red Crescent volunteer or staff (and their family and friends) are welcome to join in this annual festivity!