Being a military kid comes with both its perks and its hardships, but above all, it brings a sense of pride, according to the winners of the 2012 Month of the Military Child essay contest.
“Being a military youth, I have experienced the hurt of having a family member deployed. But to me, being a military youth isn’t about how I feel, it’s about what my dad is fighting for,” wrote 13-year-old Hannah, one of the contest winners. “I have a part in the freedom, liberty, justice and honor because my dad and other men and women are fighting for it.”
On Friday, June 8, the American Red Cross and the Colorado National Guard honored 13 Colorado children ages 6-17 for their winning essay submissions on the theme “What it Means to Be a Military Kid.”
The essay contest was sponsored by the Red Cross and Colorado National Guard in April, as part of the national “Month of the Military Child” recognizing and thanking children for their strength and sacrifices. Winners were selected in May and will be honored at an award ceremony during which ach winner will receive a $25 gift card from the Red Cross and a number of the winners will read their essays.
The youngest among the entrants, 6-year-old David, drew a picture of what it means to him to be a Military Kid. Some of the kids wrote their essay as a letter to mom or dad. And one young woman turned the contest into an opportunity for deep introspection. But among the winning essays, nearly all shared common themes of pride in their parent serving and sadness experienced during by extended absences due to deployments.
“Being a military child isn’t a burden, but a privilege that I am honored to be a part of,” wrote 8-year-old Brandon.
Nine-year-old Alex spoke of all the cool things about his dad’s military work, but then noted, “My dad’s uniform is cool, but he has to leave a lot! And it really makes me feel sad when he is gone. And he missed a lot of special things like my birthday or school in first grade and some soccer games.”
Some of the children referenced stepping up to help take care of the family when a parent deploys, or of gaining maturity and independence. They also spoke of the lessons they have learned through their parents.
“The military has taught my dad a lot, who has taught me a lot, so therefore the military has taught me as well,” wrote 17-year-old Bryace. “What better way to appreciate the military than to say thanks, not only to my amazing dad, but to everyone who serves. I couldn’t ask for a better life. So what does being a military youth mean to me? One word, everything.”
The winning essay writers read their full essays during today’s award ceremony, to the teary-eyed response of their parents and the crowd.
An estimated 35,000 school-age kids are in military families in Colorado. The Red Cross supports military families and members of the military as part of its Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) program. Although best known for its disaster response, the Red Cross in fact has a long history of serving members of the armed forces through every war of the 20th century and continuing today. Red Cross SAF programs include pre- and post-deployment briefings for members of the military; emergency communications between deployed military and their families back home; support for military families while their loved ones are deployed; and assistance at veterans and military hospitals.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit ColoradoRedCross.org, follow us on twitter (@redcrossdenver) or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org