MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, VA --
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. – While some are born into royalty, and others poverty, children of military parents find themselves born into a tradition of sacrifice and service. It is the indelible mark left on a child who watches their parents serve their country, who sees them risk their lives for something bigger than themselves. It is a badge of honor in our society, and one that will stay with these children their entire lives.
This April, Marine Corps Base Quantico and United States military bases around the world celebrate the Month of the Military Child, a month dedicated to the upwards of 1.6 million children born to U.S military parents, thanking them for the sacrifices they make and recognizing the hardships they endure.
As part of its commemoration, Marine Corps Base Quantico has taken to local schools in northern Virginia to hear from military children about their experiences, values, worries, and hopes. We sat with several students at Quantico Middle High School and other schools in the surrounding community to talk about what it’s like to be a military child.
David, a senior at Quantico Middle High School who also plays on the school baseball team, talks about the challenges that come with growing up in a military environment.
“The hardest part is definitely the loss of friends and relationships that comes with moving,” David explains. “But over time you definitely start to make more friends than you lose.”
David, already wearing his white and red-striped Quantico baseball jersey, says that though he values his father’s service and his experiences as a military child, his focus is on the future as he’s gearing up to go to college.
David’s fellow senior and classmate, Emma, wishes him luck at his game before echoing his thoughts.
“Moving around, like David said, it creates resiliency within yourself, and there’s a lot of values and principles that come from being a military child that I carry on throughout my entire life.”
When asked if she plans to join the military like her father, a colonel in the Marine Corps, Emma explains that she never wanted to when she was younger, but that her maturity has brought her to a new decision.
“Now that I’m older and a senior, I definitely want to serve, I want to go the military route.”
While growing up in a military environment could influence their desire to join the service, it may also provide greater perspective about what they might do as a civilian once they come of age.
Devon, also a senior at Quantico Middle High School, says he learned valuable lessons about responsibility from his parents at a young age, and that watching them as he grew up has made him mature into who he is today.
“Growing up in a military environment I wouldn’t say makes me want to join the military,” says Devon, “But I do have respect for those who are in the military. Since both my parents were in the military, I know the behind-the-scenes, I know what those who wear the uniform have to go through.”
As with anything, there are benefits and drawbacks to the military lifestyle. Military children continuously face the potential for their parent’s deployment or other temporary assigned duty away from home. They also face the challenge of moving every few years and leaving friends and family behind.
Brothers Jason and Bryson, whose parents are both in the army, understand what it’s like to move and start over and know that their parents have a dangerous job and deal with that reality every day.
“You never know when you’re gonna lose them,” says Jason, a 5th grader at Winding Creek Elementary School. “[The hardest part is] losing some of my friends, and when my mom and my dad have to deploy, it feels like the longest time.”
In contrast with the life of military children, a child with civilian parents may spend their whole childhood and adolescence in the same hometown.
“Most kids grow up in one area, or haven’t left their country, or their little city, but, you know, I enjoy it cause you got to move around and experience different things,” says Kyree.
Unless you asked, you probably wouldn’t realize Kyree is a military child. A senior at Colonial Forge High School, he has distinct long brown hair, he plays sports, and likes to hang out with friends. What you wouldn’t know is he’s lived in Japan, and his father is a master sergeant in the Marine Corps.
“The best part is probably being able to travel and experiencing different cultures, meeting new people,” says Kyree. “My favorite place was Okinawa, Japan. The beaches, the food, you know, that was definitely the best.”
As part of its efforts to celebrate Month of the Military Child, MCB Quantico held a Purple Up event the on-base school that gave the base commander, Colonel Michael L. Brooks, and Sgt. Maj. Collin D. Barry, the base sergeant major, an opportunity to spend time with the military children that live here on base. After making remarks recognizing the importance of military children, as well as their struggles, students at the school were able to participate in a raffle and win prizes.
Additionally, this month the Stafford County School Board has issued a Month of the Military Child Proclamation to Col. Brooks, marking the importance of this yearly celebration. Other local school districts, such as Prince William County and Fredericksburg, have issued statements as well.
When asked about how life on Quantico compares to previous bases they’ve lived on, most said the sense of community is what makes our base special and sets it apart from others.
“It’s really just a big family to me,” Devon says with a grin, “I hope others continue that because we all know each other, and in the end, we’re neighbors.”
Isis, the daughter of a Marine Corps colonel, is Devon’s peer at Quantico Middle High, and she shares his sentiments.
“I love Quantico,” she says. “Teachers are very friendly here. If you need help, nobody’s scared to approach them. They’re very friendly and the kids are very friendly. So, the sense of community is what I really like about Quantico.”
Though they may not grow up with one place to call home, military children know from an early age the importance of community. Whether it be the military at large, a specific branch, or a base. They understand that where you come from ultimately matters much less than who was with you.