Military families ‘Purple Up’ to celebrate Month of the Military Child

Members of the military and their preschool children packed the auditorium at the Pemberton Early Childhood Education Center recently for a “Purple Up Day” celebration in recognition of April being the Month of the Military Child.

The celebration recognized the children for the sacrifices they make having one or both parents serving in the armed forces.

“Purple Up” days are when people are asked to wear purple to represent all branches of the military and to show unity.

The event was sponsored by the Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski II Memorial Fund. Zilinski, a Christian Brothers Academy and West Point graduate from Middletown, who was killed in Iraq in 2005 by a roadside bomb.

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The Zilinski Fund provided gift cards to parents in the military who registered for their children, and each child received a stuffed toy through the fund’s partnership with PetSmart.

“You kids give so much to the citizens of the United States by giving up your moms and dads, and sometimes both parents,” said Marion Zilinski, co-founder and board member of the Zilinski Memorial Fund, and the mother of Dennis Zilinski. “We want these children to know how much we appreciate their sacrifice.”

The celebration included a buffet breakfast and a performance by the Pemberton Township High School Choir.

Joseph Oswald Sr., an intelligence analyst in the Air Force, attended the event with his 4-year-old son, Joseph Jr.

“Knowing that I cannot be here at times, I appreciate the support my family is given,” he said.  “A breakfast like this shows us that our local military community is here for the family when I’m away.”

Jabon Pablo, a human resources specialist in the U.S. Army, and Rahiem Rudd, a retired construction manager in the Army, attended with their 4-year-old son, Jayden.

Raheim said: “They didn’t have anything like this for my older two, so, having this now for our younger son is a great thing. He can see his mom being recognized, and that’s wonderful.”

The Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski II Memorial Fund helps sponsor service dogs for disabled American veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, and it provides scholarships to students at Zilinski’s alma mater, Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft.

Donations for the Zilinski Fund can be sent to: Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski II Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 124, Adelphia, NJ 07710 or made online at