Today’s Friday Field Notes takes us to New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, where this past April the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester New Hampshire was awash in purple as the New Hampshire Fisher Cats took on The Trenton Thunder. The home team dominated with a 7-0 win, but for the purple-clad fans filling the stands, the real celebration was for military kids!
They were taking part in the sixth annual Purple Up! for Military Kids, a UNH Cooperative Extension Military Youth and Family Program initiative that has grown into a nation-wide (and beyond) program to publicly honor and show support for youth in military families. Nearly 500 military members, veterans, and their family members were in attendance to see this outpouring of New Hampshire community support!
Like youth across the country, 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 annual 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 there are over 4,100 military children who have at least one parent serving our country. These numbers do not reflect youth who have siblings in the military, who may be the stepchildren of military members, or are children living with relatives while a parent is deployed.
Since 2011, the UNH Cooperative Extension Military Youth and Family Program has encouraged everyone to wear purple on April 15 to show their support and thank military children for their strength and sacrifices. The color purple symbolizes all branches of the military, as it is the combination of Army green, Marine red, and Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard blue.
The evening was hosted by the Military Youth and Family Program, and supported through partnerships with the UNH 4-H Foundation, BAE Systems, the Dunkin Dugout Program, and The NH Fisher Cats. Many additional organizations, as well as the UNH student volunteers who assisted on the evening of the event, helped to make this a memorable celebration for all involved, and helped to provide a prime example of how partnerships build community capacity to support military service men and women and their families.
About Purple Up!
In 2011, the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension Military Youth and Family Program started the initiative “Purple Up! For Military Kids” that quickly gained momentum and is now celebrated nation-wide. Wearing the color purple is a visible way to show support and thank military youth for their strength and sacrifices. Staff for UNH Cooperative Extension Youth and Family Military programs have always worn purple shirts as part of their special event and camp attire. But 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. Now, the Purple Up! concept is spreading far and wide, contributing to greater community capacity to support military families in visible, vibrant ways!
With this opportunity to celebrate our young heroes, UNH Cooperative Extension’s goal has been for military youth to see the support of their community. This year the Fisher Cats helped us celebrate with free tickets for Military families and a commitment to wear Purple for the event, helping our military youth see a great example of how many facets of their community stand behind them and support them.
Charlotte Cross is Extension Professor and Specialist at the University of New Hampshire.