Military kids share similar childhood challenges

Millions are Americans are expected to unofficially kick off summer this weekend with barbeques and trips to the beach. But Memorial Day, of course, has special meaning for the members of the armed forces and their families, as we honor the fallen members of our military.

"Early Show" co-anchor Marysol Castro visited with some young men and women for whom this holiday takes on special meaning -- a handful of students from the West Point Elementary and Middle Schools on the grounds of the prestigious West Point Military Academy.

And, Castro said, these military kids - like the 1.7 million other children of military members - are often asked to bravely and humbly answer their own call of duty.

Ellen Byers, 9, has had to say good-bye to a parent who was called overseas.

She told Castro, "I think I was 7 and a half and we were at the airport and his flight was called; it was just a really, really sad moment."

Trevor Ridley, also 9, had to do the same thing. He said, "When the day came, me and my sister were crying; we kept hugging him and we didn't want him to go, so it was really sad."

Thirteen-year-old Brianna Brooks said, when her family went to the airport to say good-bye, they were too upset afterward to go to school.

"So we stayed and ate ice cream with Mom and started crying and stuff," she said.

When asked what he was most afraid of with her dad at war, Trevor said, "If he was gonna get killed or not and like, is he gonna come home?"

Ellen said her father had a room that enabled noise from bombs reverberating outside to come in.

"He would laugh because he was used to it, but I'd get really scared," Ellen said.

Castro asked, "So while you were online chatting, you could hear them?"

Ellen replied, "Yeah."

Nine-year-old Phillip West said, when his father is away, he misses his joking at dinner.

"It's a nice time with him," he said. "But when he's gone, it's like, not really the same."

When service men and women come home, though, it's a time of celebration.

Trevor said he was "really happy" when his father came home.

"I was like jumping up and down with joy," he said. "I ran over to hug him."

Janeesha Cook, who is 9, said she would call her mother every day and pray for her.

"(I hoped) she doesn't die or anything or get killed," she said. "And then she came back I was looking for her, because I didn't remember her face. So then my grandma told me it was her, I was excited and I just jumped on her."

Ten-year-old Mary Underwood said, "I was 4, and I just remember seeing him getting off the plane and I ran into his arms."

Ricky Bustos, 14, said he just ran up to his father and gave him a hug.

"It was exciting," he said.

Julia Flowers said the hardest part about being a military child is watching your friends and family leave.

Ricky added, "We have normal lives as kids. Like we go out play with our friends and hang out and do what normal teenagers or kids will do, but sometimes it's different, because we move a lot."

Brianna said, "I had a really hard time making friends when I was younger, but as I moved more, I made more friends easier."

Mikenzie Turner, who is 9, said she is proud of her father because he's fighting for freedom and has been there "when we need him."

Mary said, "He risked his life to help our nation, so I'm proud of him for doing that."

"I'm proud of my parents," Trevor said, "because I know that they're they doing their best to keep our country safe."

Castro added on "The Early Show," "These students are so wonderful and  ... for their Memorial Day weekend, they're going to do their own barbecues, but they also go to the cemetery and it's a ritual for all of them, and they hang wreaths and plant flowers. And you forget that they're so little, but they carry the weight of the world."

Co-anchor Erica Hill remarked, "And so many cemeteries (with flags and wreaths) mean so much to the folks who go to visit the graves of their loved ones, to see how they are honored even after they have passed."

Co-anchor Chris Wragge said, "And they all, no matter what age the kids are, sound so mature."

Castro said, "They have to be."

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