How Kids Are Helping Bridge the Military-Civilian Divide

By Katie Lange
Defense Media Activity

You don’t usually expect children to be the ones bridging the civilian-military divide, but kids are often the most impressionable, so why not teach them to appreciate the sacrifices of military families?

Civilian girls offer up a surprise to some of their military counterparts at a big birthday party. Photo courtesy of Joy Asico

More than a dozen civilian children recently threw a birthday party for 65 military kids whose parents are stationed around Northern Virginia. It was inspired by the daughters of Kerry Brophy, who was a military child herself.

Checking out the goods! One participant is excited about one of the many items the birthday party offered. Photo courtesy of Joy Asico

One day, Brophy’s family stopped to watch a military homecoming. Her girls, Kellen and Bellamy, didn’t really understand what was happening, so Brophy explained that the families were reuniting after a long time apart. The girls were so touched that they wanted to do something for the kids, so they helped organize this group birthday party instead of parties for themselves.

The girls got to decorate cookies, do some crafts and wear crowns for the day. Photo courtesy of Joy Asico

“We wanted to help kids who don’t get to see their mommies and daddies all the time,” 7-year-old Bellamy Brophy said.

The kids were treated to a big brunch at the American Girl store in Tysons, Virginia. They were all given crowns to wear, cookies to decorate, crafts to put together, and of course, a big birthday cake.

We absolutely love our young heroes! Thank you for being incredible "All American Girls"!

Posted by Yellow Ribbons United on Sunday, November 12, 2017

Video courtesy of NBC4 reporter Aimee Cho

The Brophys’ idea has led to an initiative that encourages civilian kids to use their birthdays as an opportunity to celebrate their military peers. The idea is that if civilian parents can encourage small acts of gratitude and understanding of the military sacrifice early in life, that ideal will stick with them as they get older.

That’s one happy lady! This little girl is excited for presents and, of course, time with her dad. Photo courtesy of Joy Asico

“Military families make huge sacrifices for our country, and civilians acknowledging their sacrifices by showing appreciation for their service can make all the difference,” said Emma Dockery, who helped organize the party.

Emma Dockery, her husband, Derrick Dockery, and their children pose for a photo at the event. Photo courtesy of Joy Asico

Whether they’re giving gifts to military families or using their own party as a way to help celebrate a military kid who could use a little extra attention, it’s a great way to help kids show their appreciation for military families.

Open up! One of the girls feeds her mom, who got to be part of the celebration. Photo courtesy of Joy Asico

The families came to the celebration from installations such as Fort Belvoir, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Coast Guard Telecommunications and Information Systems Command and the Pentagon.

Yellow Ribbons United in partnership with American Girl are “Celebrating the Birthdays of Our All American Girls” on Nov. 12, 2017.
Photo courtesy of Joy Asico

While this celebration was all about the girls, more events that include boys are in the works!

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