Soldiers spend week in NYC promoting Army awareness
June 21, 2012
NEW YORK CITY -- Soldiers of 10th Mountain Division (LI) visited New York City for a weeklong community outreach program to promote Army awareness around the city.
Throughout the week, Soldiers visited schools, hospitals, parks, the Bronx Zoo, fire departments, memorials and many other sites in the city. At the different events, Soldiers interacted with all those in attendance by answering questions and bringing smiles to people's faces.
Soldiers departed Fort Drum early June 11 and arrived at Fort Hamilton to a welcome dinner put on by the staff of civilians and military personnel of the post.
"We came here to spread the Army name and what we do; we also want people to know we work for them," said Sgt. 1st Class Cesar Sanchez, a 10th Mountain Division Soldier. "We want them to see the Army as part of their community."
The second day of events put Soldiers in elementary schools around the area, where they went into classrooms and answered any questions the children had about the Army. Students asked the Soldiers what they liked to eat, do in their spare time, and where they lived. In turn, the Soldiers then asked the children what they did during the school year and how they liked living in New York City.
That night, Soldiers were invited to a traditional Chinese dinner in Flushing that included a live band, a cake -cutting ceremony and honoring Soldiers of the past.
On June 13, Soldiers visited hospitals to bring cheer to ill children of the area. The service members took photos with the children and then took the time to color, read books, and hand out gifts from the Army to the kids.
"Getting to represent the Army in the city was a great experience," said Pvt. Wasim Hajeb, a 10th Mountain Division Soldier. "It was great to talk with the parents (at) the hospitals we visited and see how the kids were doing."
Later that night, the 10th Mountain Division provided support with static displays at John Paul Jones Park in Brooklyn, where Congressman Michael Grimm honored the Army the day before the Army's 237th birthday with a cake-cutting ceremony.
"Seeing the people of the city was a huge lesson that I got to be a part of," said Spc. Seth Miller, a 10th Mountain Division Soldier. "I was glad to meet Army veterans who shared their stories, and we also shared our stories of the Army with them."
On Thursday, an Army birthday celebration took place in Times Square with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno, who was joined by fellow Army troops as he swore in 16 new recruits. There also was a cake-cutting ceremony with ''Cake Boss'' reality show Buddy Valastro, who helped Odierno cut the 500-pound cake in the shape of a tank.
"Seeing people in their busy lives in this huge city and seeing them take the time out of their day to better understand the Army was awesome," said Spc. Taylar Manning, a Soldier from the 10th Mountain Division. "I think this outreach showed the people we have Families, we have emotions, and I think them seeing this will bring us more support as a whole."
After the event in Times Square, Soldiers moved to Bryant Park for a historical re-enactment put on by the Army Drill Team and the Army Old Guard. Soldiers put on a show for the thousands in attendance, which included a theatrical representation of events from the Civil War to current operations in Afghanistan.
On Friday, Soldiers conducted a series of events as part of the weeklong outreach program, which included a Brooklyn Bridge run, a 9/11 wreath-laying memorial, and a visit to the Statue of Liberty, among numerous other events.
"It was a very great time getting to run next to the Brooklyn Bridge while having the local community see us running like we normally would on (post)," Miller added.
That night, Soldiers were given an opportunity to attend a New York Mets game and take a trip to Coney Island to enjoy a night of fun among the people of the city.
During the weeklong event, the Army's message to the people of New York City was that the strength of the nation is the Army, the strength of the Army is its Soldiers, and the strength of the Soldiers is its Family and community members. Army officials believe that without the support of the American people, the Army would not be able to perform as exceptionally as it does while serving in many locations throughout the world.