It started just after World War I, with the idea for an "annual action that could take hold in the whole world ... that would be a major contribution to peace", and evolved out of the Red Cross Truce, an initiative that was studied by an international commission established at the 14th International Conference of the Red Cross. The results were then presented to the 15th International Conference in Tokyo in 1934 to great success. The General Assembly of the International Federation of the Red Cross Societies eventually asked the League of the Red Cross Societies to study the feasibility of adopting an annual International Red Cross Day. The proposal was adopted two years later, and first Red Cross Day was celebrated on May 8, 1948.
The official title of the day has changed over time, becoming "World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day" in 1984.
Today is also Donate A Day's Wages to Charity Day, McHappy Day ($1.00 from every Big Mac, Happy Meal, and hot McCafe is donated to the Ronald McDonald Houses and local children's charities across Canada), No Socks Day, and Occupational Safety & Healthy Day.
Here are some interesting things that happened on this day in history:
- Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier, author of the French words to the Canadian national anthem, "O Canada," was born in St-Placide, Lower Canada in 1839.
- Alexander Wolcott patented the Photographic Process in 1840.
- John Norquay, Manitoba's only Premier of mixed European and native ancestry, was born near St. Andrews, Manitoba in 1841.
- John Brown held an antislavery convention in 1858. He was later captured during an unsuccessful raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, and executed by hanging in 1959.
- By the Treaty of Washington in 1871, Americans were granted fishing rights in Canadian waters and the use of Canadian canals and the St. Lawrence River in; Canadians were allowed to navigate Lake Michigan, the St. Clair Flats Canal and Alaskan rivers.
- The 1st Westminster Dog Show was held in 1877.
- Dr. John Stith Pemberton, a local Atlanta pharmacist, produced the syrup for Coca-Cola in 1886, and carried a jug of the new product down the street to Jacob's Pharmacy, where it was sampled, pronounced "excellent", and placed on sale for five cents a glass as a soda fountain drink.
- The Irish Literary Theatre in Dublin opened in 1899.
- Mt. Pelee erupted in 1902, wiping out St Pierre, Martinique, and killing 30,000.
- Bill Miner stuck up a CPR train near Kamloops, but the robbery was bungled. Miner and 2 accomplices were captured by the Royal North-West Mounted Police in 1906.
- Paramount Pictures was formed in 1914.
- Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry held the south shoulder of the breach over Frezenberg Ridge in 1915.
- Edward George Honey first proposed the idea of a moment of silence to commemorate The Armistice of World War I in 1919, which later resulted in the creation of Remembrance Day.
- Mohandas Gandhi begins a 21-day fast in protest against British oppression in India in 1933.
- Jockey Ralph Neves unexpectedly revived after being declared dead after a fall in 1936. His wife fainted when he returned to the track.
- Mad Magazine debuted in 1952.
- Jim Pattison opened his first car dealership, Jim Pattison Ltd, located on Cambie Street in Vancouver in 1961. In 1987 Pattison was awarded the Order of Canada, and in 1990, the Order of British Columbia.
- Muhammad Ali was indicted for refusing induction into the US Army in 1967.
- The Rollercoaster Revolution, the first steel coaster with a vertical flip, opened at Six Flags Magic Mountain in 1976.
- The World Health Organization announced that smallpox had been eradicated in 1980.
- Gilles Villeneuve, of the Ferrari Formula One team, died at Zolder, Belgium during a high-speed qualifying session for the Belgian Grand Prix in 1982. In his honour, the city of Berthier established the first museum dedicated to a race car driver. Maranello, Italy, home of Ferrari industries, named a street for him. In Montréal, the Grand Prix circuit was named for him.
- Former soldier Denis Lortie went on a shooting spree at the National Assembly in Quebec in 1984, killing 3 and injuring 13.
- 16-year old Keron Thomas disguised himself as a motorman and took a NYC subway train with its 2000 passengers on a 3 hour ride in 1993.
- Austin Clarke (Barbados born, now lives in Toronto) won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book for his novel The Polished Hoe in 2003.
- The new Canadian War Museum opened its doors in 2005.
- The last piece of Yankee Stadium fell in the Bronx, New York in 2010, marking the end of the two year demolition process.
Stay tuned for our next, "On This Day in History"!