by Allison Perkins
They have been as young as 8 and as old as 18.
Some have moved once. Some have moved 16 times.
A few had parents killed in combat. Others had parents severely injured on the battlefield –in ways that are both visible to passersby and in ways that are not so obvious. Most were lucky enough to have their parents returned unharmed, though the hardships of the separation linger.
Some are jovial go-getters who are a staple at on-base events and who served on every teen board around. Others remain quiet and unassuming, but are no less spectacular in their contributions.
Each of them taught me something new. Each of them was a joy to interview.
What all of them gave me was a hope that one day my young sons and daughters, military children themselves, will grow to develop the same maturity and integrity that these youngsters have. These are the types of heroes that our children, that all of us should strive to emulate.
While much of the nation trudges on with daily life, and news of the war is rarely featured on the front page, these kids are building America’s future. While their parents fight on the front line, these are the Americans who are keeping the homefront fires burning.
They have been asked to do more than just behave and help their moms around the house. In many cases, they become parents to their younger siblings. They care for injured parents. They run the household.
At school, they are the class leaders. In the community, they commit to thousands of hours of community service. They leave every place they live better than they found it.
These military kids have stepped in where many adults could not, and would not. They have faced the hardships while the grownups turned away in fear.
These kids are the reason, in many ways, that America is still a great nation.
They work tirelessly without pay, sometimes without thanks and usually, without their military parent nearby to cheer them on.
America, it’s time to say thank you.
Today, Operation Homefront begins its search for nominees for the 2012 Military Child of the Year Award.
Do you know a military child who has made a positive impact on their family and community? Nominate these young heroes for the Operation Homefront Military Child of the Year Award.