Military honors soldiers' children for month of April
Posted April 25, 2011 7:38 p.m. EDT
Updated April 25, 2011 11:32 p.m. EDT
Smithfield, N.C. — As members of the nation's armed forces serve overseas, children and families wait for them to come home safely. Gov. Bev Perdue designated April as the Month of the Military Child in North Carolina, honoring the sacrifices made at home to allow military parents to deploy abroad.
For the Roper family in Johnston County, those sacrifices are very familiar.
"It was extremely tough," said Jerry Roper, a father of six and officer in the National Guard.
In 2009, he deployed to Iraq for a year and left his family behind.
"You can never replace the family back home that you've left," he said. "I didn't know anybody that didn't have a countdown calendar while we were in the desert."
Some household responsibilities fell to the children.
"Mom falls down and I'm the next one in line, so I became second Mama," said 20-year-old Trillian Roper.
Mary Roper said she's glad to see the military honor what she and her children went through when Jerry Roper was overseas.
"That was a really hard year for me. We've been married for 23 years. I tell him I've had him longer than Uncle Sam has; I get priority," Mary Roper said. "But he reminds me that Uncle Sam's buying the groceries."
The tradition of the Month of the Military Child started in 1986 when it was designated by then-Secretary of Defense Casper W. Weinberger.
Parents who are interested in participating in remaining events this month should contact their local military family assistance center, according to the North Carolina National Guard.
They can also download a Military Child Appreciation Award to give to children on the N.C. National Guard website.