ANZAC Day with Little Ones. 'Look for the helpers.'
ANZAC day can be a difficult one to discuss with little ones, everyone needs to make their own decisions on how much detail goes into the explination of why the day is such a special one.
When it comes to talking about war with children I think it helps to take the old advice of 'Look for the helpers.' Always look for the helpers, the helpers make the world easier to understand. Weary Dunlop stands on St. Kilda Road not far from the Shrine of Rememberance and is the perfect example of the helpers. His statue, in a peaceful part of the gardens, looks to visitors with a gentle smile and usually a few poppies in hand. He gives us the opportunity to talk to the kids about the fact that wars happen and that people do treat each other very badly at times but there are always those willing to stand up and help.
A courageous leader and compassionate doctor, he restored morale in those terrible prison camps and jungle hospitals. Dunlop defied his captors, gave hope to the sick and eased the anguish of the dying. He became, in the words of one of his men, "a lighthouse of sanity in a universe of madness and suffering". His example was one of the reasons why Australian survival rates were the highest.
After 1945, with the darkness of the war years behind him, Dunlop forgave his captors and turned his energies to the task of healing and building. He was to state later that " in suffering we are all equal". He devoted himself to the health and welfare of former prisoners-of-war and their families, and worked to promote better relations between Australia and Asia.
He was active in many spheres of endeavour. He became closely involved with a wide range of health and educational organisations, and served as President of the Australian Drug Foundation for 13 years, and also on the board of Cancer Council Victoria. His tireless community work had a profound influence on Australians and on the people of Asia.