To honor the Month of the Military Child in April, First Lady Jill Biden opened an exhibit in the White House East Wing featuring 20 pieces of art created by military-connected children around the world. The display includes framed drawings, painted face masks, and poetry.
According to PEOPLE, the exhibit was organized by two nonprofits – Military Child Education Coalition and Kids Rank – in conjunction with Ms. Biden’s Obama-era military family initiative called Joining Forces.
“You see these really powerful experiences of what it means to be a military-connected kid, and they’re from all around the world,” said Rory Brosius, the executive director of Joining Forces.
“We wanted to work with our partners in this space to highlight some of the artwork that … processes and demonstrates what their life is like,” Brosius added. “This gives the military kids a platform to express their experience and connect with their peers, and art has always been a really important form of therapy and expression.”
One of the pieces included in the exhibit was a poem called “I Remember” by 8th grader Madilyne, the daughter of a United States Marine.
The poem reads:
I remember the smell of airports,
new schools, new faces.
Hanging up belongings each few years in new spaces.
Leaving old friends, and meeting the new,
piecing my life together with cheap glue.
Should I stay or should I go? Do I even have a choice?
How do you feel about moving here?
Do I even have a voice?
But now the cheap glue is starting to hold,
and the journey that I’m on will slowly unfold.
I’ve gotten experiences not many get, a lot of people I’m glad to have met.
Living this life has its perks you see.
Being a military child is fine with me.
“I created this work because I remember how I felt when I first moved to my previous home in Okinawa,” she said. “I think that this may be how many military children feel when moving somewhere new. What inspired me was when my attitude towards moving changed.”
Last year, Ms. Biden met with U.S. military families and advocates to relaunch Joining Forces to support military and veteran families, caregivers, and survivors with employment and education opportunities and physical, social, and emotional health support.
“Military and veteran families, caregivers and survivors may not wear a uniform, but you serve and sacrifice for us all,” the First Lady said at the time.
“So much of a ship’s power is unseen beneath the waves: the engines, the anchor, the rudders that give it direction and purpose,” she continued. “You are the rudder that steers our military, and supporting your physical, social and emotional health is a national security imperative.”