Considered by many to be the most prestigious award a person or organization can possibly achieve, and loathed by others as a corrupt organization dead-set on awarding politicians for the committee's personal gain via favors, the notion of Nobel Prizes were established by Alfred Nobel in 1896 by virtue of his will donating over 90% of his vast financial empire to the establishment of this committee. The first prizes were not handed out until several years later.
The Year was 1901
I must admit that I don't pay much attention to the Nobel Prizes, but still understand that they are quite an honor to receive. Along with the honor comes a rather large sum of money (around $900,000) in exchange for appearing at the grandiose ceremony and giving a short speech. Well, they also had to do something pretty dern special to win.
The winners from 1901 are names that don't mean a great deal to us now but the 1901 winner of the Peace Prize is the most relevant in modern-day society.
His name was Jean Henry Dunant and he was the founder of the Red Cross
Dunant's creation was built to assist those wounded in war regardless of which side they were on. The Red Cross would provide protection for medical personnel in the field and at least in theory, it would be considered abhorrent to attack this clearly marked group as they were not to choose sides, but to help in the survival of critically wounded soldiers not for the sake of returning them to battle, but for the preservation of life.
Today Red Cross functions as a group dedicated to assisting those in need after any disaster (not necessarily armed conflict) by providing medical assistance, clothing, food, shelter, and water. The organization is funded entirely by charitable donations and staffed primarily by volunteers. They have chapters all over the world although it is referred to as Red Crescent in Muslim countries. It operates in nearly every country in the world.
It is considered a war crime to interfere with Red Cross/Crescent volunteers assisting civilians or wounded soldiers. They are meant to be allowed to freely work in a humanitarian fashion regardless of whose side those assisted are on.
That's a pretty special contribution to society if you ask me. Dunant established The Red Cross in 1863 and in my opinion he is certainly more deserving of the prize / reward than some we have seen in later years. I have particular people in mind when i say this, but i'm not gonna try to stir up controversy.
Regardless of whether or not a person views the Nobel Prizes and political manipulation or genuine appreciation of the most deserving candidates, there is no denying their global importance and recognition. It all began today 118 years ago.