The Profiles in Courage Award 2014.
The Kennedy Society has decided to present for the year 2014 The Profiles in Courage Award - John F. Kennedy’s book “Profiles in Courage” – to The International Red Cross with this Laudation: For in more than 150 years to have been committed to the words of Henri Dunant: “Learn human beings to respect defenseless, captives and wounded; impress them disgust for hate, atrocities and destruction, then future generations will look on war as madness.”
Henri Dunant wrote those words as a young man. Yearning to see his words becoming a reality and deeply inspired by Florence Nightingale, he after the battle in northern Italy at Solferino in 1859 wrote his book “A Memory of Solferino," 1862, where he committed himself to the plan: All nations should establish societies to aid sick and wounded soldiers during war friend and foe alike. He then founded the Red Cross and took initiative to the Genèva convention.
Red Cross’ workers give courageous help – with life, health and freedom at stake – to the benefit of the victims in wars and they fight for laws protecting the victims of war. In the efforts to strengthen the Genèva-conventions the goal must be to ban all forms of wars of aggression as illegal.
The global efforts of Red Cross are according to the words of President John F. Kennedy in 1961. We are “unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed” and his call to “a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.” The efforts to set prisoners of war free is according to his use of “the command of Isaiah to “undo the heavy burdens… and let the oppressed go free.” It is also according to his words to the Peace Corps and to his speech to UN in 1961: “For in the development of the organization rest the only true alternative to war, and war appeals no longer as a rational alternative.” and: “Let us call a truce to terror.” Just as it is according to his words to UN in 1963: “members of this organization are committed by the Charter to promote and respect human rights.”
Red Cross’ workers show both courage in danger and courage to charity in the many challenges of life. We see it now as their courageous help to the victims of the civil war in Syria and cooperation between Red Cross and Red Crescent is a good partnership needed by the whole world.
The good commitment by the Red Cross’ workers remind us about the words of Senator Robert F. Kennedy:
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lots of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
From the speech at the presentation of the Profiles in Courage Award to International Red Cross in Soenderborg, Denmark, August 22, 2014.
By Chairman of the Kennedy Society of Denmark, Svend Aage Nielsen.
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Congratulation with 150 years at work beginning just here in Denmark during the war in 1864… For us in the Kennedy Society the two brothers we mention in our purpose, John F. and Robert F. Kennedy, are human beings for better and for worse. Therefore this Laudation is the basic document for the Award we bestow on International Red Cross today. In the Laudation there is a statement by President Kennedy, “Let us call a truce to terror.” We understand this to cover all forms of terror from individuals, groups, regimes and states. It is a very relevant statement in agreement with the purpose of Red Cross. It has been said earlier on, but it has a substance we will stick to. It has been said in the United Nations at the “finest place of work in the world” as expressed by a newly appointed Dane to one of the UN’s highest offices. It has also been said by an American working at the Hill with a view to the statement on the Supreme Court, “Equal Justice under Law.” Let this be the standard for behavior among all people. Let the substance in these two statements, Let us call a truce to terror and, Equal Justice under Law go out from today and from this place that we may help each other to respect the standard of these two statements. Our Award-receiver in 1983, Andrej Sakharov wrote in 1969 in his Manifest on Progress, Co-existence and Freedom, ”Humanity will only have the possibility to a more painless future if it will look at itself as one demographic unity, as one family.” With these words, it is a great pleasure to present our international award – with Laudations in English, German and Danish - John F. Kennedy’s book Profiles in Courage - to you, who here represent International Red Cross.