It’s unusual to find two Democrats and a Republican in agreement, particularly when their names are Carter, Clinton and Bush.

However, three former presidents, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, did agree on one thing — giving a voice to military children.

Each wrote an endorsement for "My Hero: Military Kids Write About Their Moms and Dads," a book of children’s essays and artwork. Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf wrote the forward for the book.

"They were all very moved by what the children said," said Mike Rothmiller, who co-edited the project with Allen Appel.

"It’s about the children. That cuts across all lines," Rothmiller said from his office in Colorado. "The most liberal or the most conservative — they understand that children have feelings."

The creations were entries in an essay and art contest conducted by the Armed Services YMCA, a non-profit organization serving military families in the U.S and overseas.

Essays and artwork for the book were selected by Rothmiller and Appel, independent of the contest judging.

Choosing from thousands of submissions was an emotional process, Rothmiller said.

"Going through the essays, we found that we either were laughing or at the point of almost shedding a tear," he said. "I spent 10 years as a cop, and I’ve seen almost everything, and you never shed a tear, but these were very touching."

Kanyon Wilson, 12, whose essay appears in the book, wrote about his mother, Regina Duch.

"I just thought about what she did and how she made me happy, and I just wrote it down," Kanyon said from his home in Ohio.

There was friendly competition in Kanyon’s blended family, with two parents in the Active Guard and Reserve.

"Two of us wrote about our step dad, Andy," said Kanyon. "Me and my sister, Alexis, wrote about Mom. When (my mom’s) won, she was happy, because Andy likes to win everything."

Tyara Isbell, 15, of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, wrote about her Coast Guard father, John Isbell.

Tyara told me she wrote about him "because, like the story said, he saves people’s lives, and he’s practically a hero for everyone when he saves their lives."

Rothmiller said he and Appel developed this book to tell the civilian world about the life of military children, in their own words.

"Children of the military need to have a voice," he said. "We wanted get it out there to show everyone outside the military that these kids have feelings and concerns just like everyone else."

The essays in the book reflect the young writers lives.

Butler Nicklus, 7, whose dad is a Marine, expressed pride in his mom, who "cooks good food every day" and can hotwire a car – her own, naturally.

"No matter how late he gets home, he always kisses us goodnight," wrote Benjamin Gardner, 11, of his Army dad.

Another contributor is Matthew McMahon, son of Army parents Lt. Col. Michael J. McMahon and Col. Jeanette McMahon.

"My father was killed in Afghanistan on November 27 (2004)," wrote Matthew, 13.

Just because he went to war and died is not the only reason he is my hero. He was always there for me in life and death. He always knew what was right and kept me on task."

Matthew also wrote about his mother. "My mom was always there for me … Anyone who can go through all that and still come out on top of things is my hero."

Some proceeds of the book, published this month, will benefit the ASYMCA. For more excerpts and more about the book, see the Spouse Calls blog. For more about ASYMCA, go to

Terri Barnes is a military wife and mother of three. She lives and writes in Germany. Contact her at and see the Spouse Calls blog at

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