October 26th is annually designated as National Day of the Deployed. The day honors all of the brave men and woman who have been deployed, are sacrificing, or have sacrificed their lives to secure our freedom. In 2006, North Dakota resident Shelle Michaels Aberle took action to honor U.S. military personnel who were currently deployed. She petitioned then-North Dakota Governor John Hoeven to proclaim the first official “Day of the Deployed” on Oct. 26. In 2011, the U.S. Senate passed a unanimous vote to make the day a National day of honor and by 2012, all 50 states celebrated the day.
We believe providing college scholarships for children of the fallen is one of the best ways to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Join us in paying tribute to our fallen heroes and their surviving families.
Kristen McHugh-Moore’s Story
Kristen McHugh-Moore’s favorite memories with her father were made in the passenger seat of his old, blue Chevy suburban. With the windows rolled down and the radio turned up, the two would sing along to their favorite contemporary Christian bands, but the songs were more than just a catchy tune.
“A lot of the songs had messages that were really important to him, so he’d always talk about them with me afterwards,” Kristen said about her father, U.S. Army Colonel John McHugh. “His favorite song was called ‘Born Again’ by Third Day, and I just remember he would listen to it over and over in the car. It’s one song I can still hear him singing.”
Throughout her early years in high school, Kristen and her father’s passion for these bands continued to grow. They began seeking out and going to concerts together, and when he deployed to Kuwait in 2007, they emailed the lyrics of their favorite songs back and forth every day. The music and the life lessons they learned together became their thing.
However, this all changed on May 18, 2010. Only a few months after the last concert they attended together, Colonel McHugh was killed in action in Kabul, Afghanistan. Her father’s death left a void in her life, but in the months and years following his death, their music helped Kristen heal.
“When I listen to the songs I remember what he lived for and how much his values of loving God, loving our family, serving other people, and serving our country meant to him,” she continued. “The lyrics inspire me to keep moving forward, and to be the best person I can possibly be to make him proud.”
Though Kristen was a junior in high school when her father was killed in action, she knew she wanted to live her life in a way that would honor her fallen hero, so she decided to enroll at Liberty University.
“When I first started school at Liberty, it was only a year after he died so I wasn’t really sure what to do,” Kristen explained. “I contacted Fallen Patriots and they helped right away. They sent me my first laptop; they even helped me pick out the right laptop for my studies. It was awesome!”
Children of Fallen Patriots helped Kristen achieve her goal of graduating from Liberty University with Magna Cum Laude honors in May 2016. She received her bachelor’s degree in Family and Child Development and minored in Psychology.
“Graduating college was a huge accomplishment for me,” Kristen said. “I started off studying Psychology specializing in Christian Counseling, and then, I realized I wanted to work with kids. My degree means a lot to me because not only do I have a job I enjoy, but it has also given me the opportunity to succeed in that job.”
Kristen currently works at the Tinker Air Force Base Child Development Center as a Lead Educational teacher. She is also a military spouse, as she recently married her college sweetheart, Daniel Moore, who is currently serving in the United States Air Force. Without the help of Children of Fallen Patriots, Kristen says she wouldn’t be where she is today.
“I always knew if there was anything I needed related to school and related to reaching my goals, that they were there to help,” she said. “It’s not only what they provide monetarily, but they were also intentional about building a relationship with me.”
“Just knowing that there are groups like them out there that are willing to help Gold Star Families like mine, it’s amazing.”