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Kids' art shows both sides of emotional deployment coin

Apr. 25, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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For Jaeda, an eighth-grader at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., the expression of a military child was one simple, profound sentence: “I don’t dream, for I have too much on my mind.”

For Army daughter Tashia, an 11th-grader at Hohenfels Middle/High School in Germany, the expression was a drawing of a soldier’s form outlined by a string of tiny words, part of the official Army values, almost frail against a vivid backdrop of camouflage — “selfless service, honor, integrity, pride” outlining the face. And the word “sad” forming each of the soldier’s eyes.

Those are two of 48 pieces of art and writing showcased in the Military Child Education Coalition’s “Art from the Heart” exhibit. The original art was exhibited for about a month at the Department of Education in Washington, D.C., then moved for a few days to the vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory.

But you can view the pictures and writings online at the MCEC website, www.militarychild.org. It will be highlighted on the home page at least through April, then archived on the site.

Each fall, MCEC does a “call for the arts” to schools, highlighting military children’s talents, said spokesman Michael Gravens. Officials identify the child artists by first name only, he said.

A strong thread of patriotism runs through the depictions of deployments, homecomings and moves to new places.

In “Deployment Math,” Alison, an Army daughter who attends the University of Texas in Austin, shows that she understands the impact all those family separations had on her father.

“He’d missed so much during all those deployments, so much time spent away from home and where he wanted to be,” she wrote. “I always tried not to concentrate on the statistics because they just made me sad.”

She and her father made a spreadsheet that he called “Deployment Math” — a list of everything he had missed, including eight consecutive anniversaries and “most of my children’s formative years.” They figured that over 9½ years, he had been at home just 57½ percent of the time.

The exhibit is likely to strike a chord — possibly more than one — with every military family.

Karen Jowers is the wife of a military retiree.

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