ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Rock Island, Ill. - In the days leading up to the kickoff of the Month of the Military Child at Rock Island Arsenal, the word began to spread that more than 285 golf balls were going to be dropped 80 feet from atop a firetruck ladder by the installation's Garrison manger, Joel Himsl; then there was the date of the event ... April 1.

However, this was no April Fools' joke and shortly after 10:15 a.m., Himsl scaled to the top of the Arsenal Fire Department's truck ladder and let loose a shower of golf balls that cascaded down to the ground marking the beginning of the Month of the Military Child on the Island.

The event took place to a large group of children, parents, employees and on-lookers outside the Child, Youth & School Services building on Post, who erupted into applause as golf balls escaped their captivity and plummeted toward the marked targets on the ground.

To "up the ante" of the spectacle, each child attending a regular scheduled CYSS program had previously received one of those golf balls and were associated with its assigned number. Based on where the golf ball landed, which could have been on one of the pre-marked targets, that child won a prize. Among the prizes were a weekend family camping package from MWR Outdoor Recreation, a family movie ticket package, as well as a family Adventureland ticket package.

The event was sponsored by the Association of the United States Army and the Rock Island Arsenal Women's Club.

During April, U.S. military installations around the globe are recognizing the contributions and sacrifices that servicemembers' sons and daughters make daily.

April is Month of the Military Child and is being celebrated with a theme of "Celebrate Military Children: The Strength of Our Future" on Army garrisons.

More than 1.7 million children under the age of 18 have at least one parent serving in the armed forces. And it is estimated that more than 900,000 children have had one or both parents deployed multiple times.

Accordingly, garrison-level Child, Youth and School Services programs are holding special events to honor Soldiers' children. These events will stress the importance of providing children with quality services and support promised them through the Army Family Covenant, according to Installation Management Command officials.

Installations of all services are honoring military children by providing a month packed with special activities - arts and crafts shows, picnics, fishing derbies, carnivals, parades, block parties and other special activities - to acknowledge the unique contributions they make.

The month-long celebration, first held in 1986, reinforces to military children that they are, indeed, a key part of the armed forces community.

(IMCOM Public Affairs contributed to this article)

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