<b>FORT STEWART, HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. </b>-Hundreds of children, decked out in eye-catching, colorful T-shirts proclaiming "I Am a Military Child and Proud of It!" showed their pride as they strutted in a parade that marked the start of a month of activities in their honor.

The April 1 parade at Fort Stewart marked the beginning of a Month of the Military Child observance to recognize the sacrifices that youngsters - from toddlers to teens - make as part of their Family's service to America and the Army.

A parade at Hunter Army Airfield, held at the same time as the Stewart event, launched the month-long celebration there. More than 100 children from Hunter's Child Development Center as Family childcare providers marched in the Month of the Military child parade with staff and Family Members.

"This is a good opportunity to honor our kids and acknowledge their struggles and social challenges," said Sgt. 1st Class James Winstead, a Soldier from the 260th Quartermaster Battalion, along with his wife, also a 260th Quartermaster Soldier. The couple has a three-year-old daughter who attends Hunter's CDC, and a nine-year-old son.

"Military kids are faced with overwhelming obstacles these days," he added. "Our moves require them to change schools, friends and environments every two to three years. They have to learn to adapt."

Marchers at Stewart formed in the courtyard of the Child, Youth and School Services Child Care Center located in building 403 near Marne Lanes. The children, their caregivers walking with them offering encouragement and direction, walked to Steel Avenue and then looped back to the courtyard.

The caregivers wore T-shirts - blue, orange, lavender, yellow, red and more - that matched the colors of the children and read, "I am a military provider and proud of it!"

The littlest of the children - not yet able to walk in a parade - got to ride in buggies usually used to transport them on their longer jaunts. Children from other Fort Stewart child care centers were bused to the site for the parade.

Bradwell Institute's Marching Band, 75-strong, filled the air with patriotic songs such as "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" and "America the Beautiful." The school's color guard led the marchers.
Brigadier General Jeffrey Phillips, 3rd ID deputy commanding general-rear, praised the adults for the care they are giving to Military Children and thanked the children "for all you do, and for being good boys and girls."

He asked the groups of children what their favorite book was. "Cat in the Hat" was the clear winner.

"All you have to do is ask, and I and (Command Sgt. Maj.-Rear Jeffrey Ashmen) will come back here and read it to you," he promised the children.

Children's music was an energy-adding ingredient. The youngsters danced, clapped, jumped and sang along with songs such as "Get Funky" and "Hokey Pokey," among others. Smiling, Brig. Gen. Phillips joined in the musical fun.

Dora the Explorer of Nickelodeon Fame created a buzz and was a center of the children's attention. Brigadier General Phillips was a favorite for photos as well, posing for photos with various age groups.

Kodak moments were abundant - parents and other participants stayed busy snapping photos and making video recordings of the special day honoring special children.

"Awesome," was how Monica Brown described the event. Her nephew, Connor Finkler, took part. "I loved the enthusiasm of the kids and the teachers. I loved the band being here. It was awesome."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16