Fort Lee says 'thanks' to military Families
November 14, 2012
FORT LEE, Va. (Nov. 14, 2012) -- Roughly 250 community members turned out for the annual Military Appreciation Dinner at the Regimental Club Nov. 8.
The event, which commemorates Military Family Month, offered door prizes, entertainment and free dinner as a gesture of gratitude for military members and their Families.
Army Community Service sponsors the dinner. Col. Rodney Edge, U.S. Army garrison commander, was among the many military and civilian leaders in attendance.
Kim Evans, family services program manager, said the event is intended as a symbolic "thank you" for the many sacrifices Fort Lee military Families make on a daily basis.
"We're here to celebrate our service members and their Families for their contributions in keeping us safe," she said, taking a break from inflating balloons meant for the many children at the dinner.
A 392nd Army Band combo kicked off the event with a number of musical selections. After a buffet-style meal was served, several door prizes were given away including a flat-screen television. That part of the night generated much excitement.
"I really appreciate the fact that they do this for the Families," said Marcela Perez, who won a gift pack and attended the event with her three young children and friends. "I was at Fort Hood (Texas). It's a really big base. They didn't do much of this, and if they did, it was hard finding out about it. It's much more Family-oriented here, and I really appreciate it."
Just a little after midway through the event, "Star Wars" storm trooper characters made an appearance and crowd members posed for photographs. Children frolicked and toyed with balloons twisted into shapes. Their cries and laughter mixed with the chatter of parents and adults to create a comfortable atmosphere. That's the way it was supposed to be, said Evans.
"I like the fact that Families can come out in a relaxed environment," said Evans, a participant in the dinners since 1994. "They socialize, they get to take the load off and just enjoy being a military Family."
Military Family Month was established in 1993 by the Armed Services YMCA. The President signs a proclamation each year, declaring the observation. This year President Barack Obama said Families bear especially heavy burdens in supporting their military members.
"Just as our troops embody the courage and character that make America's military the finest in the world, their Family members embody the resilience and generosity that make our communities strong," said the commander-in-chief. "They serve with heroism in their homes and neighborhoods while they are without the comfort of having loved ones nearby. Day after day, week after week, spouses resolutely accomplish the work of two parents, sons and daughters diligently keep up with homework and activities, and parents and grandparents patiently wait for news of their child and grandchild's safe return. To these Families, and to those whose service members never come home, we bear a debt that can never be fully repaid."