By Marge Christianson
Special to Independent
In recognition of the sacrifices made by families of deployed Armed Forces members, Peoria’s American Legion Auxiliary Unit 62, 9847 W. Desert Cove Ave., hosted a complimentary day at Surprise’s Luv2Play indoor playground for families with a deployed airman from Luke Air Force Base. Twenty children played freely throughout the venue and then joined their home-front parent for pizza.
Passed by Congress in 1986, April is designated as the Month of the Military Child.
“The American Legion Auxiliary recognizes and celebrates the service of U.S. military families all year long, but in April our focus is on the children of service-members” Doris Theiss, Sun City resident and Peoria Auxiliary Unit president stated.
Nationally, there are 1.82 million brave sons and daughters of our military servicemembers in our communities today. Not only do these children face separation of a parent who may be deployed multiple times for extended periods of their childhood, they also undergo the challenges of constantly moving, according to the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Family Readiness Policy. Frequent moves disrupt friendships, schools and the conveniences that come with being familiar with a community.
In collaboration with Chick-fil-A Arrowhead, 16657 N. 83rd Ave., Peoria, the Unit also placed a child’s military table throughout April prominently in the restaurant. A Military Child’s Table Setting includes:
• The potted flowering plant symbolizing that a military child may flower and flourish where they are planted
• The hand spade recognizes that they may be transplanted to a new place in the world at a moment’s notice.
• The birthday cake and unlit candles, along with the baseball and glove, and ballet slippers represent special occasions that are missed.
• The family photo depicting a child with his/her uniformed parent demonstrates our country’s strength.
• A purple tablecloth on a child’s size table — purple because the combined colors of the five military branches (Marine red, Air Force blue, Coast Guard blue, Navy blue, Army green) make purple.
Chick-fil-A Arrowhead also recognized “Purple Up! Day” for military kids. The restaurant offered free food for military dependents and decorated the restaurant in purple. The Auxiliary handed out complimentary purple ribbons and patriotic rulers depicting past “Commanders in Chief” on one side and the Pledge of Allegiance on the other.
American Legion Auxiliary members have dedicated themselves for nearly a century to meeting the needs of our nation’s veterans, military, and their families both here and abroad. Nationally, they volunteer millions of hours yearly, with a value averaging $2 billion each year. As part of the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization, ALA volunteers across the country also step up to honor veterans and military through annual scholarships and with ALA Girls State programs, teaching high school juniors to be leaders grounded in patriotism and Americanism.
The John J Morris American Legion Auxiliary Unit in Peoria has been awarded the top national Auxiliary award for its efforts in meeting the needs of active military, veterans, families and youth. To learn more about the Auxiliary’s mission or to volunteer, donate, join or partner with the Auxiliary, visit AZPost62.com or email ALAunit62AZ@gmail.com.
Editor’s note: Marge Christianson is the public relations volunteer at American Legion Auxiliary, John J Morris Unit 62 in Peoria.
IF YOU GO
What: Memorial Day activities
When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday, May 27
Where: American Legion Auxiliary Unit 62, 9847 W. Desert Cove Ave.
More Information: Visit AZPost62.com or email ALAunit62AZ@gmail.com