Last year, I traveled to Fort Campbell, Ky., to talk with some military teens about the challenges they face and to hear firsthand about the effects of multiple moves and deployments after nearly a decade of war.
I expected to hear their sadness over missed sporting events and science fairs, and I did, but was pleasantly surprised to also hear the pride in their voices as they spoke about their parents, and to see the strength that enables them to carry on in the face of concern for a deployed loved one or sadness at a missed milestone.
"It's not easy, but I was brought up to keep going, no matter what," Cornelius Madison told me. "I have to do it for my Mom. I'm really proud of her."
At the time, Cornelius' mom, Army Staff Sgt. Asia Lowe, and stepfather, Army Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Lowe, were deployed in Afghanistan for a year, their second deployment in three years. Cornelius and his two younger siblings were staying with a family friend.
The family friend who took them in has three children of her own.
Military families never cease to amaze me. They bear their own burdens with strength and then reach out to ease the burdens of others. And they hold down the homefront so their loved ones can ensure this nation stays free.
This month, Military Family Month, offers all of us a chance to celebrate military families' contributions to the nation and to acknowledge the sacrifices they make on a daily basis. It also offers us a chance to say thank you for the part they're doing to keep our nation safe.
In his Military Family Month proclamation, President Barack Obama noted that Americans have a "national commitment" to support and care for military families, just as we support our servicemembers.
"As America asks ever more of military families, they have a right to expect more of us -- it is our national challenge and moral obligation to uphold that promise," he said. "If we hold ourselves to the same high standard of excellence our military families live by every day, we will realize the vision of an America that supports and engages these heroes now and for decades to come."
I hope to highlight many military families throughout the month. And feel free to highlight them as well –- write in to thank a family for what they do, whether it's a spouse, child, teen, parent, sibling or other loved one.
I also encourage you to find out if there's a military family in your neighborhood, and if so, reach out to them and offer your support, and gratitude. It's an effort all of us should make, not just this month, but year-round.
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