Many parents today are hesitant about acknowledging ANZAC Day with their kids, because they are afraid that by doing so, they are glorifying war. As years go by, the number of our ANZAC veterans who are still alive dwindle. The families and communities who felt that public acknowledgment of the day was more to pay our respects to our fallen and living soldiers, feel that there is little point if there are no veterans alive to appreciate it.
Clearly, there are more reasons that we as a nation pay tribute on Anzac Day and this is why it’s important for Australian families to keep up the tradition and instill those values in our children. Firstly, there are many other servicemen today who have risked their lives (and continue to do so) serving the nation in other countries, such as East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq. Cities around Australia organise a public march/parade in which our former and current soldiers take part, and their communities gather to pay respect. Many families who gather are actually military families – in other words, the father (or mother) are currently serving away from home (or have done in past years), and the parade and Anzac Day itself has significant meaning to those families. A parade is usually of great interest to kids, and gives their parents an opportunity to explain its significance in an age-appropriate way.
Whether or not Anzac Day is addressed in the classroom at school, it’s a good idea to have a chat about it with your child, either on the day, or before. Kids are naturally inquisitive learners, so show your kids some (age appropriate) old photos of soldiers, and help them locate Gallipoli on a world map. Attending a parade are also ways of discussing the different medals and pendants servicemen display and the different nations that Australia has helped to combat war.
Probably the main Anzac Day lesson/reminder for all of us is about peace and acceptance. Many children understandably find it disturbing watching images or footage of conflict in various parts of the world. Many parents rightly want to shield their little ones from discovering such horror.
Unfortunately nowadays these types of visuals are ‘normalized’, because of media, computer games, and movies. Occasions like Anzac Day are the perfect opportunity to give kids a summary of what happened in the past, and importantly, the message of peace as a preferable way to live.
Our kids, even though they are young, have the opportunity almost daily to choose and feel peace. Discuss with your kids what these options are… for example, engaging with other (perhaps different) kids who have trouble fitting in. Ask your kids when they feel most at peace. And then, when Anzac Day is over for another year, the real sentiment is instilled and grown within your kids and community. With older children, why not brainstorm what the letters in ANZAC means to them, and forming their own acronym? A= Adventurous; N=Never giving up Z= Zealous A=Amazing C=Courage
Of course, no Anzac Day is complete without our iconic Anzac Day cookies. Here is a recipe that you and your child/ren can use for a fun few hours baking. Alternatively, every supermarket and most bakeries will have some for sale.