He said it more in passing from the seat behind me in our minivan as I drove him to his friend Landon’s house.
“Ya know, mama…” he begins. I look in the rearview mirror at his handsome profile, his eyes staring out the window.
“When people ask me where I’m from, I’m never quite sure what to say.”
I smile and tell him that’s a normal conundrum for military kids. And that ain’t the only one, I think to myself.
Not long ago, my husband retired from the United States Air Force after serving well over 20 years. Even though he’s no longer active duty, I still witness amazing qualities in my kids forged during their many years as junior members of the military family, qualities honed in hard fought battles of their own.
Since April is Month of the Military Child, it seems doubly appropriate to honor all our past and present military kids. May my words below be a standing ovation for those youngest in the military family, those who didn’t sign up for this lifestyle but were born or adopted into it. Those who may not know “where they’re from,” but will always have a place – a family – to belong.
(“In Praise of Military Kids” free printable here)
In Praise of Military Kids
We honor you the military kid, the youngest of our unsung heroes whose daily choices are fed on courage and starved of complaints.
You whose shoulders slump with heavy realities you don’t always understand but whose feet still move one brave step at a time.
You who shows patriotism every time you wave goodbye to the moving truck or your mom or dad.
You who knows another move is around the corner but will still reach out to the new friend living across the street.
You whose roots may be shallow but strong, supporting beautiful blooms just the same.
You who takes up the slack of a missing parent by not slacking off on household chores.
You who are practiced at making friends quickly even though you know goodbye will come quickly too.
This is for you the military kid, you who are more adept at conversing with grown-ups than some grown-ups are.
You who struggles in your new environment but doesn’t want to worry mom or dad with how you feel.
You who let the words and tears fall anyway.
You who wanders the halls of your new middle school desperate to make sense of your mixed-up schedule.
You who asks the new kid at school to sit by you at lunch because you knows how terrifying that initial walk into the lunchroom can be.
This is for you the military kid, you who memorizes your home phone and address just in time for it to change.
You who ignores your flip-flopping stomach on the first day of your fifth school in five years.
You who when asked, “Where ya from?” are never quite sure how to answer.
You who handles new situations with incredible adaptability but mature-beyond-your-years dependability.
You who knows that home is more about the people you’re with than the place you sleep.
You who unknowingly serves and sacrifices so much alongside your parents, never asking for anything in return.
You who knows that being called a brat is not an insult but a badge of honor.
This is for you the military kid, you who don’t expect a well-deserved thank you but earned one just the same.
To you we say heartily and exuberantly: thank you. Thank you for all the quiet ways you serve well. You are seen, appreciated, and wildly loved.
If you have a military child in your circle of influence, give them an extra hug or a high five today…
from you and from me.
Beautifully written, Kristen!
Thank you friend. xo
Oh, this made me bawl. My four beautiful nieces are military kids and each section perfectly describes at least one of them. My brother-in-law is in the Coast Guard.
They’ve been living close to me for the past four years (Houston area – he’s stationed in Galveston). They’ve been here longer than they have any other place. It’s been wonderful having them close!
It’s been good for our whole extended family to reconnect after so many years apart. I’ve gotten to know the older girls better and the younger two are just a delight (they’re ages 13, 9, 4, and 10 months).
They’re moving to Alaska in just a few months and oh, I’ll miss them! I’ve been loving on those girls every chance I get since I know regular time with them is growing short.
Liza, what a gift you’re giving those girls ~ one they’ll carry with them to Alaska and beyond. I know they’re so grateful!
Maria @ The Good Life says
This is beautiful! I am not a mom but my brother is and his kids have been through a lot. And as an officer who has been a commander many times, it always breaks my heart what they go through. Thank you for this beautiful post.
Thank you, Kristen, for putting into words everything that I felt as a child growing up in the Army. I cried as I read because it’s all so true and it brought back memories..good and bad. Added to this, I am a graduate of the Air Force Academy and served five years of active duty myself, so I was able to take those things I learned and experienced as a dependent and mingle them with life as an active duty officer. So many facets to the military life. Thank you for the wonderful tribute to brave and resilient military kids everywhere!
Beth Williams says
Beautiful poetry! Children have a way of adapting quicker than adults. It amazes me how military children can make friends and be content with moving so many many times in their young lives!
This is such a beautiful tribute to the thousands of military kids around the world, past and present! I was born and raised
in a military family and continue to thank the Lord for the privilege. I can relate to every line of your message. Beth, I really
appreciated your comment about the speed with which kids adapt to their ever-changing environment. Adapting is a must and
what a life-teaching trait that becomes. My Dad was a WWII pilot and then made the Air Force a career. My heart will forever be over-flowing for all he endured and all that both of my parents instilled within me.
Leigh Ann says
Thank you for this! I’m thankful for what the military has given us. My kids have become amazingly resilient and have the ability to start somewhere new every 3-4 years and make new friends. I know this will serve them in life. They also have a sense of adventure. I asked my oldest if she would want to go back to Ohio again. She said “No way, we’ve already seen everything there!”
Susan G. says
Amen! Well said! I honor them as well, because I hold their Military dad or mom in high esteem! I get the most satisfaction serving the military families here at the 173rd Fighter Wing in KFalls.
May God bless the Military men and women and Veterans everywhere!
Thanks for this!
Beth Williams says
I’m in awe of people who can move around like that on a whim and not complain much! Bravo to the military kids! These are brave little people who endure for the sake of their country. They realize that mom or dad are serving their country and keep them and others safe from harm!
Beth S. says
This post make me think of my youngest son who deserves many extra hugs for how he “unknowingly serves and sacrifices so much alongside ‘his’ parents, never asking for anything in return.”
Our church recently helped us welcome home our eldest son from his deployment but I so loved when a church friend walked up to my youngest son and told him that the ways he serves and sacrifices matters too.
So love and appreciate your heart for military families, Kristen.