Military-connected children are those with at least one parent or guardian serving in the military on active, reserve, or National Guard duty.
These children face challenges and life experiences that are unique and often misunderstood or unrecognized by non-military families.
To commemorate the children of military families, April is designated as the Month of the Military Child, and Purple Up! is a day observed during this month to show support and gratitude for military kids.
Here are six things you need to know about Purple Up! For Military Kids Day.
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1. How Purple Up! Started
April was established as the Month of the Military Child in 1986.
Caspar Weinberger, Defense Secretary at the time, was responsible for this awareness initiative.
Since then, the Department of Defense has continued to honor and commemorate this month each year for military-connected children.
There are thousands of children who have one or both parents serving on active duty, reserve duty, or in the National Guard, across all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Defense Secretary Weinberger’s 1986 campaign to recognize the unique experiences of military children at home and overseas has increased awareness of the needs of the military child.
These children face uniquely challenging situations such as parents deployed to war zones, living in foreign countries, and even educational disparities within the Department of Defense Dependent School System.
Purple Up! For Military Kids Day was established as part of the Month of the Military Child as a day to acknowledge and celebrate these kids by wearing the color purple.
2. The Color Purple
The color purple is associated with military activities and/or organizations that include civilians and dependents, such as military children.
In addition, purple also refers to activities and/or organizations that involve multiple branches of the military.
Purple indicates support for all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces through the combination of their colors:
- Air Force blue
- Army green
- Navy blue
- Marine red
- Coast Guard blue
Therefore, Purple Up! Day signifies unifying support for military-connected children within all branches of the military and at all levels of service.
3. Why Purple Up! Day Is Important
April is noted as the Month of the Military Child.
This designation focuses on and honors the sacrifices that military families make across the globe.
It emphasizes, in particular, the experiences of children as dependents of military members that serve in the U.S. and overseas, no matter their rank or branch of service.
Within the Month of the Military Child, April 15th is set aside each year as Purple Up! For Military Kids Day.
This day offers military families, their support communities, and others who have connections with service members and their families the chance to recognize and thank military-connected children for their unique contributions, strengths, and sacrifices.
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4. Why Military-Connected Children Are Unique
Military-connected children face many experiences and challenges that differentiate them from their non-military peers.
Here are just some examples of why military kids are unique:
- They move, on average, 6-9 times during their parent/guardian’s military career, sometimes overseas
- Most will change schools at the K-12 level 3 times more often than non-military students, interrupting educational and social stability
- Extended family often live great distances away, limiting support and visits
- They are more likely to experience grief and loss at an early age
- Lengthy and frequent deployments result in temporary but enforced family separations, creating single-parent households or temporary guardianships
- They experience higher anxiety due to the potential for danger in parents’ careers
- They have an altered sense of “home” due to temporary living in base, post, and/or rental housing
Of course, many military kids report positive feelings about some of their experiences that are also unique compared to their non-military peers.
For example, military-connected children tend to travel more often, are exposed to different people, places, and cultures, and they typically have a strong sense of community and pride in the military.
However, there is no doubt that military kids are asked to show strengths and make sacrifices that most of their non-military peers are not.
5. How To Commemorate Purple Up! Day
On April 15th of each year, the Department of Defense Education Activity encourages community members to wear purple in support of military kids.
Though Purple Up! Day is not an official holiday, being aware of the event allows for people inside and outside of the military to acknowledge the importance of military kids.
Therefore, communities, schools, and other municipal organizations can commemorate Purple Up! Day by recognizing military kids and expressing gratitude and/or admiration for their unique experiences.
This expression can go beyond simply wearing purple on April 15th.
If you live in a community with a military presence and/or you know any military kids, you can take part in commemorating Purple Up! Day even as a civilian.
To find out how to participate and show your support, you can contact your local schools, community centers, and even the nearest military base or post to get more information.
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6. Gratitude For Service
The military culture has grown and developed a foundation that the families of service members play a vital role in the health and well-being of troops, which is related to overall mission success.
This concept is often referred to as “total force” and it acknowledges the importance of individual members in service to their country as well as the sacrifices made by their dependents—including children.
Though most civilians are somewhat unfamiliar with the daily lives of military members and their families, they often feel a deep sense of gratitude for their service to the nation.
It’s easy to spot service members when they are in uniform and take a minute to personally thank them or wish them well in your mind and heart.
However, it’s much harder to spot a military-connected child and express gratitude for their service as well.
Therefore, remembering April as the Month of the Military Child and taking part in Purple Up! Day in whatever capacity possible is a special way of expressing gratitude for military-connected children and the important role the play in the lives of military members.
References / Resources
Month of the Military Child in April recognizes young family members
Military Child Education Coalition
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