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HOPE in Capital Letters!

By Operation Homefront

April 10, 2012

(Welcome guest blogger Nathan Richards, age 9, and recipient of the 2012 Navy Military Child of the Year award.)  My Mom said before we left for D.C. “I hope you behave!”  She also said, “I hope you can act like a young man all the time, there will be a lot of important people there.” I was thinking, “yeah….all the Military kids will be there. Hahah Mom.” She also said, “I hope you have fun! But most of all I hope you can really embrace the opportunity you have and remember, Nate the Great, with great privilege comes great responsibility.” She is pretty smart but I don’t think I got it till we went to D.C. and we were at the Gala (the Operation Homefront Military Child of the Year Gala ).

Hope! Now that word carries a lot of weight. Many times military kids can feel like they have no hope. No one hears them, no one cares what they are saying and they have no power in what is going on. Well, this past Thursday I saw a lot of HOPE for all of us!

Operation Homefront, many important members of our military and a lot of sponsors saw the hope we need!  Four girls, Alena, Chelsea, Amelia, Erika, and me, were lucky to represent all the military kids at a Gala. We each represented our own parents’ branch and are all humble and proud to serve you. There was many speeches and they all spoke of the hope we showed other military kids and the HOPE all Military kids need.

Sammy Davis, the Medal of Honor winner said he saw hope in our eyes, and played Shenandoah. It made me sad because it made me think of my brothers and Dad who were deployed. It also made me Happy because it made me think of all the fun we have when we are hiking, wrestling and sitting on Rocks on our mountain talking to each other. It was one of my favorite parts of the whole week.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Dempsey said we have profound thoughts! We are the way we are because of all the situations we have to deal with! The CNO (Admiral Jonathan Greenert) was at the table with me all night and said I didn’t fall far from the tree. He was right about that. My Dad and brothers are always setting great examples for me! Everyone there was a huge supporter of the hard times we can have as military kids, and they all are trying to make it a little easier for us.

Award recipients visit the White House. The buck stops with Nathan, sitting in the middle.

The idea of HOPE for military kids came to me when we were touring D.C with our parents, and Operation Homefront. We visited many of the awesome sites that are in our Nation’s Capitol.  During our trip I heard and saw the word Hope 11 times. We went to the Vietnam Memorial, and there is a Nurses Statue there. One of the Nurses was named HOPE, she was looking up to the sky and you could see she had HOPE. That inspired me too , because when our parents are gone we have HOPE , they will be ok and come home soon. Then on the Vietnam Wall was a note written by a little kid that said she missed that person and she HOPEd they knew it. I hope all the time when my brothers are deployed they know I miss them and HOPE they miss me. We went to one of my heroes monuments, Martin Luther King Jr. He had a dream, but my favorite quote of his is “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’”

We went to see the White House and there is a lot of HOPE there. Mrs Obama is a huge supporter of military kids, lots of changes are in the works to help military kids. Dr. Jill Biden has a book coming out soon for kids about what her Granddaughter did when her Dad was deployed.

But I think the biggest HOPE for Military kids I saw this week was the military kid, a girl, named Givahna Penserga, who came all the way from her home to see me. She was one of the top 5 for the Navy and just as awesome as the rest of us. It was one of the biggest honors of my trip to D.C. It gave me HOPE that all military kids can support each other, help each other through the hard times and be there to celebrate in the good times. We are the biggest HOPE any Military kid could ask for, each other.

I  HOPE she keeps inspiring others and puts HOPE in them like she did for me!

The ceremony was so exciting and the Color Guard gave me goosebumps. I don’t think I have ever stood so still, straight or very proud as I did during the National Anthem. We all heard awesomtacullar (that is for you John) speeches about ourselves and our families. We received a $5000 check from Operation Homefront. And then Veteran’s United gave us a $2000 scholarship. An extra special thanks to Soldiers’ Angels for the laptop. This is my very first blog on my own computer, amazing feeling!

Everyday when I get up, I have an awesome trophy to look at me and give me the inspiration to do the best I can as a “Military Brat.”

It was almost unreal to know that I was there to represent all the Navy kids. Can I live up to the job Operation Homefront gave me ? I HOPE So.

Thank you to Operation Homefront for giving all the military kids,  1.2 million of us,  HOPE!  And thank you to our travel escort, Mr. Jay Anderson. He is the president of Operation Homefront in California, a Major in the Marines and a really cool guy. He has great riddles and loves logic puzzles, so the trip was really fun.

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