Military children, tell us your story!
April is Month of the Military Child. And for the fifth straight year, I’m happy to say Stars and Stripes community publications are dedicating the entire month to the children of our men and women in uniform.
Each Stripes Okinawa, Stripes Japan, Stripes Korea and Stripes Guam issue in April will contain stories, poems, drawings and photos from our military children about what life is like being a “military brat.” By the way, when I say military brat, I mean it with the utmost affection.
For those children who are part of the military community overseas but not technically a military child, we also want to hear from you as well. You and your Department of Defense civilian parents are a key part of the military community. We really wanted to make that clear this year.
During my 20 years with Stars and Stripes, I have worked on many special projects and editions. But I can tell you, that our yearly salute to this resourceful group of children continues to be my favorite.
When we kicked this off in 2012, we had no idea what type of interest it would generate. Although it was a last-minute idea in late March, DODEA was supportive and asked for student participation. We ended up with 172 submissions and ran them during the last week of April in at least one of our weekly community papers, depending on where the child lived. Back then Stripes Korea didn’t exist.
The feedback we received from parents, students and teachers was all extremely positive, so we decided to expand the project in 2013. Working closely with DODEA teachers and administrators, we decided to make it a month-long effort and run stories weekly in our community papers, which now included Stripes Korea. We also created a special website, stripesrewards.com/militarychild, and loaded every story and drawing on it.
We now receive hundreds and hundreds of submissions each year. Every single one of them appears in at least one weekly paper in April and is posted on the special website. It’s just a great platform for children to have their say. Some stories are humorous. Others serious. Some simply pull at your heartstrings. But the underlying theme of just about every one them is simple: They are proud of their parents for serving their country. And in my dealings with parents over the years, it’s obvious that they, too, are proud. Proud of their military brats.
As we approach another April, our team is ready for the onslaught of submissions. In fact, we’ve already received dozens and are already loading them onto the site and getting them ready for print. We’ve been in touch with teachers across the Pacific who are using this as a class project; many are doing this for their fourth or fifth year. Over the years, I have even had the privilege of visiting a few classrooms to pass out papers and talk to the students. They are always so excited to see their names in print.
For those of you who haven’t participated in our annual salute, we hope to hear from you this year.
Stars and Stripes is very proud to serve the military community, and it’s an honor to spotlight this resourceful group of children. So help us tell the story about life as a military child.
We can’t wait to hear from you!
And by the way, we’re going to make you famous!
Publishing and Media Design Manager
Stars and Stripes