The Depot

Purple Up! Day: What It Is & How to Observe It

Purple Up Day family walking

While Purple Up Day is not an official holiday, it marks an important day in the Month of the Military Child. April 15 is Purple Up Day which is also sometimes referred to as Military Child Day.

In 1986, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger established the Month of the Military Child intended to recognize the sacrifices made by military children of the United States whose parents serve in the U.S. military. Purple Up Day is a special day that asks others to wear purple clothing items in order to raise awareness of the often demanding and challenging life that military children live while they are a part of military families.

Why purple? In the U.S. military, every branch uniform is a different color. Within the ranks, if a military person is assigned to a joint billet, meaning if their assignment is in a unit that has Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Space Force members in it, that assignment is known as a joint assignment because multiple service branches are working jointly together. Unofficially, service members refer to those assignments as “purple,” because that is the color a person would get if they mixed all of the different uniform colors together.

Purple Up Day for military kids is a day to wear purple to show support and thank military children for their strength and sacrifices. It is sort of like wearing red on Fridays for R.E.D. days (Remember Everyone Deployed) when folks put on red as a show of support for those who are deployed. In this case, the color purple shows support for all branches of service. The goal of Purple Up Day is for military kiddos to actually see the support in their school, youth groups, and the community.

Purple Up Day Family on ground

Military personnel are easy to spot when they are in their uniforms. As the country wraps up 20 years of warfighting, many people still feel compelled to thank service personnel for their service when they see them. However, for military kids who often spend holidays without a parent, celebrate birthdays with a parent over a phone, or graduate while a parent is away, the sacrifices are just as hard as their parents, but there is little recognition or appreciation from the public. And that’s not to imply that military kids need the kudos, they do not and they are just as humble as their parents, but wearing purple on Purple Up Day shows them that appreciation and it lets them know that they have support and that they are not alone. It enables others to recognize the sacrifices of military kids.

What most people do not know about Purple Up Day is that it is not just for military families and military organizations to celebrate. Civilians and those not connected to the U.S. military in anyway can partake in Purple Up Day. If you have school-aged children and know that there might be military children in the community, try to reach out to their parents to see if you can work with them to get the military kids recognized at school for Purple Up Day. If that doesn’t work, you can still raise awareness by wearing purple on April 15, and using Purple Up Day hashtags on social media to help others learn about the special day.

Localized neighborhood social media boards are great channels to raise awareness about Purple Up Day. Most neighbors are unaware that there are military families in their neighborhoods and many would jump at the opportunity to show their support for Purple Up Day and not because military families are charity, but because military kids endure more than the average American kid as they grow up.

It's important though not to wait until April 15 to raise awareness. Start spreading the word in April and let neighbors and others know that on April 15 they should wear purple for Purple Up Day. Purple is a pretty unique color and some might have to purchase clothing items in order to dress accordingly. It is good to give them plenty of runway.

Purple Up Day Military Mom

If you work outside of your home, wearing purple for Purple Up Day and encouraging your co-workers to wear purple for Purple Up Day shouldn’t be too difficult. You can broach the topic at meetings or mention it in an email. It’s recommended you ask your leadership if it’s okay to show support for military kids. Some companies might find the topic political and might ask you to refrain, but we suspect most will support showing appreciation and support for military kiddos.

To muster support in the workplace, simply do the same things as you would in your neighborhood. Notify people that the event is approaching and explain to them the importance of wearing purple for Purple Up Day. This will give them time to react and along the way give them small reminders.

You can also see if any of your co-workers served or are in the National Guard and Reserve. While Purple Up Day is mostly about military kids of active duty members, Purple Up Day also includes military families from the reserve components who make similar sacrifices as their active duty counterparts. Maybe you work alongside of a reservist with a family who was mobilized a couple of years ago. She can talk about what her family endured during her deployment. If she is willing to bring in her kids, that’s even better.

Purple Up Day Military Dad

Take up a collection from your team and buy some donuts, bagels and coffee and juices and the entire team can share breakfast and talk to the military family. If you don’t have military families in your company, you can still show support by having everyone wear purple for Purple Up Day and you can take a group photo and post it on social media on April 15 using Purple Up Day hashtags. This will not only help raise awareness for Purple Up Day, but it will also show that your company is socially aware.