Stars, Stripes, and Surprises

“Well, I have something that will cheer us all up,” said Mom. “It’s a letter from Dad. I’ve been waiting for everyone to be home before I read it. Ricky, call Jill. Let’s all go into the living room.”

When everyone was settled, Mom began. “Dear Merry McIntires…” Suddenly, she stopped. “Oh!” she exclaimed.

“What? What is it?” everyone asked.

Mrs. McIntire’s face was glowing. She tried hard to keep her voice calm, but it was so full of happiness it sounded wobbly. She read, “I’m coming home…”

Stars, Stripes, and Surprises: A Molly Classic, Volume 2

Since 1984, the U.S. has observed Military Spouse Appreciation Day on the Friday before Mother’s Day. Generally recognized by a special presidential proclamation each year, Military Spouse Appreciation Day is celebrated alongside other significant military observances—like VE Day, Armed Forces Day, and Memorial Day—as part of May’s National Military Appreciation Month.

The men and women whose spouses serve in the military hold a unique and important place in the multifaceted landscape of American culture: their day-to-day service to the nation exists in the space where civilian and military ways of life converge. In some ways, military spouses serve as liaisons between these communities. As depicted in Molly’s story, they are the arbiters and deliverers of news, both to and from their Marines, Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, and Guardsmen; their experience and insights about service, patriotism, and community are important to the strength and character of both the nation and its military; and they are often the primary point of support for their families, from readiness to mission to reintegration into civilian life—and everything in between. Military Spouse Appreciation Day is a wonderful way to recognize these men and women for their commitment.

Sometimes, a simple gesture is the most meaningful, so here are a few suggestions for showing the military spouses in your community your support and appreciation.

Be a closer

Help someone finish a project they started—be it unpacking the last of their boxes if they’ve recently relocated, painting and reassembling a room, organizing their garage or other space, etc. These kinds of projects are sometimes easier and a lot more fun to finish with a buddy.

Make it your treat

Treat your friend, neighbor, or coworker who is a military spouse to coffee or lunch, and just enjoy each other’s company for a while.

Give them a break

If they have children, offer to babysit for the afternoon or evening. Or take on a routine task for them: offer to mow the lawn or shovel snow, drive the carpool, weed a flower bed or tend to their plants, or simply deliver dinner so they can have a night off from cooking and cleaning up the kitchen.

Invite them along

Have a cooking class, book club, fitness studio, or local team you love? Why not ask them along to a class, game, or event? Maybe they’ll love it, too.

Give a little something

A card, a note, a bouquet of flowers, a tasty treat or beverage—these are all simple ways to show you are thinking of them.

Be open

Roughly 10% of active duty military spouses are men. Many military spouses once wore the uniform, themselves—and some still do. They may be professionals who not only strive for work/life balance but also for work/life/military balance; primary caregivers; talented artists; skilled craftspeople; community leaders; innovators; formal and informal educators; entrepreneurs—in short, there’s no one “type,” no ‘standard issue,’ military spouse. Take the time to listen to their perspectives, joys, cares, and experiences—odds are, they have some great stories to tell.

Ribbon

In celebration of military spouses and the families and communities they support each and every day, enjoy these stories and moments families have shared with us—and please feel welcome to share your own with the American Girl community on Facebook and Instagram. #CharacterCounts

Deployed with Dad

Deployed with Dad

When this dad deployed to the USAF’s northernmost base, 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle, he had with him a very special companion: his daughter’s doll.

NYC Surprise Reunion

NYC Surprise Reunion

Welcome home, Marine. American Girl worked with this CWO to arrange a surprise for his wife and family. See their heartwarming reunion, captured by TODAY.