New Hampshire military youth are resilient and take pride in their service to our country. They deserve our appreciation and support. The month of April provides an opportunity to recognize and honor the service of our youngest heroes, military children. Established by former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger in 1986, the designation of April as the Month of the Military Child acknowledges the significant role military youth play in our communities. In New Hampshire alone, there are over 5,200 military children who have at least one parent serving our country. These numbers do not reflect youth who have siblings in the military, the stepchildren of military members, or children living with relatives while a parent is deployed.
In 2011, the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension Military Youth and Family Program started the “Purple Up! For Military Kids” initiative, that designates a given day in April to wear the color purple in recognition of the children of military families. Wearing the color purple is a visible way to show support and thank military youth for their strength and sacrifices. Since its inception, the “Purple Up! For Military Kids” initiative quickly gained momentum and is now celebrated nation-wide, and beyond.
Why purple? Purple is the color that symbolizes all branches of the military, as it is a combination of Army green, Coast Guard blue, Air Force blue, Marine red, and Navy blue. Staff for UNH Cooperative Extension Youth and Family Military programs have always worn purple shirts as part of their special event and camp attire. New Hampshire creatively transitioned and expanded this idea as a way to celebrate youth in military families during the Month of the Military Child. Asking community members and groups to wear purple as a symbol of support for youth in military families was a natural next step.
With this opportunity to celebrate our young heroes, the goal has been for military youth to see the support of their community.