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Father's Day: remembering Maurice Pate of UNICEF

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Maurice Pate was childless himself. But as author Judith Spiegelman wrote, Pate was godfather to millions of poor and forgotten children around the world. These were children Pate saved as a humanitarian and the first director of UNICEF.

The United Nations Children's Fund was founded in 1946. There was so much suffering in Europe and Asia because of World War II, a new agency had to be created to help children. Maurice Pate was a man who had right experience. He fought the hunger and malnutrition caused by both the First and Second World Wars.

When Herbert Hoover became President Truman's food ambassador after World War II, Pate was his assistant specializing on child hunger issues. Pate and Hoover led a mission that saved hundreds of millions of people of starvation.

Pate was clearly a great choice to become the first director of UNICEF. The agency quickly went to work helping the rehabilitation of children in the war-torn countries. All of a sudden children were getting meals and milk that otherwise would not have been there. Something as simple as a meal, which many of us take for granted, saved many lives during those dark times. This heroic work was expanded worldwide.

UNICEF was awarded the 1965 Nobel Peace Prize. Pate had passed away just months prior. In the acceptance speech it was said, "On the road that leads to peace.... Maurice Pate has lit many a candle."

Another quote from the Nobel speech reads, "

"The English historian Arnold Toynbee says that our century will probably be remembered, not for its two world wars, but as the period in history when, for the first time, the idea of mutual help between people, aimed at raising the standard of living everywhere, was accepted."

Today as we celebrate Father's Day UNICEF is hard at work helping children in crisis zones like Syria, Iraq, Central African Republic and South Sudan. These are war zones where children will die from malnutrition and disease unless someone helps them. UNICEF is leading the way along with its partner agencies in the field, saving lives. That is a cause we can all support on this Father's Day and every day.

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