5¢ International Red Cross Centennial
Issue Date: October 29, 1963
City: Washington, D.C.
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Giori Press
Color: Bluish black and red
U.S. #1239 honors the 100th anniversary of the International Red Cross and its contribution to the Cuban prisoner exchange. The stamp is based on a photograph of the freighter S.S. Morning Light, which was one of the mercy ships that returned refugees from Cuba at Port Everglades, Florida, on May 24, 1963.
The International Red Cross
The idea for the Red Cross goes as far back as 1859. While touring Italy during the Austro-Sardinian War, Jean Henri Dunant witnessed the suffering of soldiers wounded on the battlefield. Dunant proposed that all civilized countries establish “...permanent societies of volunteers who in time of war would give help to the wounded without regard to their nationality.” The idea caught on. On October 26, 1863, delegates from 16 nations met in Geneva, Switzerland, to begin laying the groundwork for such an organization.
Today, the International Red Cross is an organization of over 135 nations. These nations provide various forms of assistance to victims of wars and other disasters. Most also provide various medical and health programs as well as youth activities and junior divisions.
There are approximately 2,500 Red Cross chapters in the United States alone. 1,600 of these chapters consist entirely of volunteers. Many chapters have just one paid worker. Each individual chapter is controlled by one of three area offices. In turn, a 50-member board of governors, based in Washington, DC, supervises these area offices.