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Fort Irwin/National Training Center Commander Brig. Gen. Robert "Abe" Abrams reads to kindergartner Matthew Rivera on June 17 during his visit to Ms. Athena Brown's class to read the book, "Sam the Army Dog."

When Fort Irwin/National Training Center Commander Brig. Gen. Robert "Abe" Abrams came to Ms. Athena Brown's kindergarten class on June 17, Matthew Rivera quickly raised his hand to sit beside Brig. Gen. Abrams as he read the book, "Sam the Army Dog" to the rest of his classmates.
Brig. Gen. Abrams was accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Connie Abrams, and the family's golden retriever Shiner, who greeted each child with a friendly canine kiss.
"I'm glad he came and the best part was the pictures," said Rivera, whose father is currently deployed with the 699th Combat Support Brigade as he was quick to add how friendly Shiner was.
As Brig. Gen. Abrams read the book to the classroom filled with excited kindergartners, Mrs. Abrams sat beside Shiner as he laid down peacefully listening to his owner's word periodically raising his head to grab a treat before rolling over for a belly rub as every child rushed to pet him at the story's conclusion.
"I want you to read it with me," Brig. Gen. Abrams said as he opened the book and began reading the story about Sam the Army dog, who finally finds his calling helping cheer up wounded Soldiers at an Army hospital. "It's just like me and Shiner."
As Brig. Gen. Abrams read the story, he paused periodically to answer questions from his audience and ask questions as well.
"My Mom works at an Army hospital," one student exclaimed as the rest of her classmates joined in telling Brig. Gen. Abrams what each of their parents does for the Army.
"It was a lot of fun," said kindergarten Christian Lloyd. "The best part was petting him (Shiner)."
As she watched her students signing the book for Brig. Gen. Abrams, Ms. Brown stressed the importance of having visitors like Brig. Gen. Abrams read to her class.
"It's very important for them and most of them have read the book already," she said, noting that most of the students in her class received a copy of the book last week.
In addition to reading the book, her class made cards for Brig. Gen. Abrams to thank him for visiting their class, she said.
While reading to students in general is important, it takes on even greater meaning for children like Rivera, whose father is deployed, she said.
"It's very important for them to see there are people here supporting their dad and that they care about them as well," Ms. Brown said.

Page last updated Wed June 17th, 2009 at 15:23