“It’s terrific that we’re celebrating National Day on the Rütli with the Swiss Red Cross,” says SSCG President Jean-Daniel Gerber. The president of the SRC, which also celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, is former SSCG President and ex-Federal Chancellor Annemarie Huber-Hotz. On 1 August, the SRC will give a demonstration of one of its valuable services live on the Rütli. The organization also shares much in common with the SSCG in its encouragement of voluntary work. The SRC has no fewer than 73,000 volunteer staff.
Commenting on the event, Jean-Daniel Gerber said, “I’m also extremely pleased about the choice of this year’s speaker.” As early as two years ago, the SSCG’s Rütli committee had planned to invite a personality from Italian-speaking Switzerland to give the formal address on the country’s National Day. Carla del Ponte was Federal Public Prosecutor in Switzerland (1994–1998) and Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia (1999-2007) and genocide in Rwanda (1999-2003) before her appointment as Swiss Ambassador to Argentina (2008-2011).
The SSCG saved the Rütli from purchase for a hotel complex in 1858 before presenting the legend-steeped piece of land to the Swiss Federation in 1860. Since then, it has been in charge of administering the “cradle” of the Confederation, as it is known. The SSCG has organized the National Day celebrations on the Rütli since 1891 and for the past five years has done so in cooperation with some other body that plays a central role in Swiss civil society. In 2011, the Swiss Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired celebrated its 100th jubilee on the Rütli, and in 2012, Pro Juventute did the same. In 2013, it was the turn of the Swiss Football Federation and in 2014, the Jungwacht Blauring, Switzerland’s second-largest young people’s association. Last year, the “Gästival” (or Guestival) celebrated 200 years of tourism in Central Switzerland. Next year, Pro Senectute will take over the Rütli to celebrate its first century. The SSCG always invites diplomatic envoys and ambassadors from countries accredited in Berne and Geneva to the Rütli for the National Day celebrations. But in practice, anyone is welcome to attend. Folk music, alphorns and flag throwing guarantee a rich and varied programme in this unique setting on 1 August.