Robert M. Crawford Elementary students perform a Crawford cheer in the school gym during Purple Up Day, April 19, 2013, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The students assembled in the gymnasium to demonstrate their military pride by wearing purple, singing patriotic songs and cheering for their school. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Peter Reft/Released)
Anagerlie Davis, 354th Force Support Squadron youth programmer, hands out purple back packs and pens to students from Ben Eielson High school and Robert M. Crawford Elementary at the youth center April 19, 2013, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The gifts were donated by the 4-H Youth Development Organization in Fairbanks. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Peter Reft/Released)
A banner drawn by Robert M. Crawford Elementary students promotes Purple Up Day in the school hallway April 19, 2013, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Students participated in the event, a national calling to show support for youth in military families, by decorating the school's hallways with signs and balloons. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Peter Reft/Released)
by Airman 1st Class Peter Reft
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
4/26/2013 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Robert M. Crawford Elementary School students celebrated Purple Up Day April 19, 2013, honoring military children who make unique sacrifices in support of their active duty mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers.
Alaska recently adopted Purple Up Day last year to show support for an estimated 13,000 children in the state who have active duty and deployed parents.
"It is important for these military-connected youth to know that their Nation and community stand by them in support, and that we recognize their strength and the sacrifices they have made," said Senator Mark Begich in a Congressional Record observing Purple Up Day. "I ask Alaskans to join me in wearing something purple on Purple Up Day."
During an assembly in the school gymnasium, Candi Dierenfield, Alaska's military liaison for the 4-H Youth Development Organization, spoke to the Crawford Elementary students about their importance as a military family member. She thanked them for their part in supporting their parents.
Dierenfield asked for those with active duty parents to stand with pride. Almost every child rose and shouted in unison. Candi reminded those still sitting that they have their own duty to support their friends who have deployed family members.
"Some of the children have heartbreakingly not had their parents come back or come back very different," said Dierenfiled. "It's a great way to show our support for them and just to thank them."
The children demonstrated their pride during the assembly by singing the national anthem, God Bless the USA, America the Beautiful and the Air Force Song.
Guest speaker 2nd Lt. Shaina Thompson, 354th Force Support Squadron executive officer, emphasized the importance of the children to service members and how FSS dedicates so many resources just for them.
"You guys are the ones there when we get home," said Thompson. "We get to hang out with you and you're very important to your family. They love you very much."
April is the Month of the Military Child and Purple Up Day is a dedicated time for military families to commemorate their children. The New Hampshire 4-H chapter started the event in 1986 as a way to celebrate and thank military children nation-wide.
The color purple represents all military service branches and is also the resulting color when combining the colors of each service: Army green, Air Force blue, Navy blue, Coast Guard blue, and Marine red.
Different events for the children of military families were spread throughout April, including luncheons with parents, arts and crafts, assemblies with speakers and singers and themed gatherings. A Scooby Doo mystery party is scheduled for April 27 from 2-4 p.m. at the youth center.
For more information on programs for Eielson's youth, visit www.EielsonForceSupport.com.