Wednesday, June 11, 2014

2014 Month of the Military Child Essay Contest

Story by Bill Fortune
Photos by Arnett Luce

Every year in April, the American Red Cross Service to Armed Forces program celebrates the Month of the Military Child. As part of that celebration an essay contest was held for children of military families. This year marks the third annual Month of the Military Child essay contest in Colorado. The theme this year was “What does it mean to be a military child?” There were 21 entries in the contest with ages ranging from 6 to 17.
Allison Drown accepts
her prize from
Brig.Gen Limoge for
 best in grades 6-8 and
 best overall essay

Zach Polliard receives his prize
from Brig.Gen. Limoge for
winning best in grades 9-12
 and second overall best essay
A ceremony was held Monday, June 9, 2014, at the Elkhorn Conference Center, Fort Carson, Colorado to give the children an opportunity to share their essays and to announce the selection of the best overall essays. Each entrant received gift items from the Red Cross including an iPod and a Kindle Fire. The entrants were grouped by school grade, K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12. Each child stood before the audience of more than 60 people consisting of family, Red Cross volunteers and staff, and military members to read their essay. In each group one essay was chosen as the best and of those best essays two were chosen as the overall winners.

Laurie Burke, program coordinator for the Colorado National Guard Child and Youth Program and Tim Bothe, Red Cross Service to Armed Forces program manager served as the masters of ceremony. Brig. Gen. Jerome Limoge, Colorado Air National Guard., was on hand to present the gifts and awards.

“The essay contest is an opportunity for military youth to share their feelings about their lives as a military child,” said Tim Bothe, Service to Armed Forces manager. “As a military child myself I can empathize with their stories.”

The essays were heartfelt stories about their experiences. Similarities were evident in the stories with frequent references to opportunities to travel and meet people from different backgrounds and cultures. There were also multiple references to the support from the military community that seemed to lessen the stress for the families. In each case the proof was in the writing that the military community has focused on the strong family unit to make sure that they have cared for the service members and their families.

Touching phrases came from these children who have struggled through frequent transfers and long deployments. Especially the stress associated with long deployments to combat areas was evident when Cyierra Lood-Davila said, “…you don’t know when, or if, they are coming back.”

David Acosta won first place
 for grades 3-5
Seventeen year old Zachary Polliard was the Second Overall Winner of the contest. In his essay he said that being a military child meant you would have to overcome "hurdles, lots of hurdles" but that in the end it would be worth the effort.

Allison Drown, age 14, was selected as the First Overall Winner of the contest. In her essay she said that her life was very different from nonmilitary children. “When other kids list their emergency contacts at school they list family members like a parent, a grandparent, or another family member,” Allison wrote in her essay. “When I do that I list my parents and then friends of the family or members of the unit because family members are too far away.” She also wrote about the “grandparents tour” when the family vacations centered on visiting relatives hundreds of mile away just before her father’s deployments.

Isaac Olson accepts the prize for his sister
Jocelyn Olson who could not attend
Winners of the Military Child Essay Contest were:
• Grades K-2 - Jocelyn Olson
• Grades 3-5 - David Acosta
• Grades 6-8 – Allison Drown
• Grades 9-12 – Zachary Polliard

Overall Winners of the Military Child Essay Contest
• Allison Drown - First Overall
• Zachary Polliard - Second Overall

These children whose fathers or mothers are members of America’s Armed Forces have truly seen it all. They have seen the good days and the bad, the difficult separations and the heartwarming reunions. But through it all they have valued the family unit and made the best of it. In her essay, 14-year-old Aislin Graziano summed it all up with a quote from Muhammad Ali, “Don’t count the days, make the days count.” That is how she handles the challenges of being a military child.

You can see more photos at the Colorado Red Cross Flickr page. To learn more about the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces program go to

1 comment:

  1. Indeed, those kids have seen it all(( At the same time, they probably value their parents and reunions with them even more than kids who see their parents every day but don’t even appreciate the care they receive. As I just was going to write essay, you gave me excellent food for thought and a perfect starter for my paper.