• Lt. Col. Craig S. Wagoner, commander of the 1-335th Infantry Battalion, 205th Infantry Brigade, presents a plaque to Hailee Holberton, a 7th grader at Doe Creek Middle School, in New Palestine, Ind., Jan. 29.

    Lt. Col. Craig S. Wagoner, commander of the...

    Lt. Col. Craig S. Wagoner, commander of the 1-335th Infantry Battalion, 205th Infantry Brigade, presents a plaque to Hailee Holberton, a 7th grader at Doe Creek Middle School, in New Palestine, Ind., Jan. 29.

  • Lt. Col. Craig S. Wagoner, commander of the 1-335th Infantry Battalion, encourages students to improve their writing skills at Sugar Creek Elementary, in New Palestine, Ind., Jan. 29.

    Lt. Col. Craig S. Wagoner, commander of the...

    Lt. Col. Craig S. Wagoner, commander of the 1-335th Infantry Battalion, encourages students to improve their writing skills at Sugar Creek Elementary, in New Palestine, Ind., Jan. 29.

  • Lt. Col. Craig S. Wagoner, commander of the 1-335th Infantry Battalion, 205th Infantry Brigade, presents a plaque to Brooklyn Brown, a 5th grader at the Sugar Creek Elementary, in New Palestine, Ind., Jan. 29.

    Lt. Col. Craig S. Wagoner, commander of the...

    Lt. Col. Craig S. Wagoner, commander of the 1-335th Infantry Battalion, 205th Infantry Brigade, presents a plaque to Brooklyn Brown, a 5th grader at the Sugar Creek Elementary, in New Palestine, Ind., Jan. 29.

More than 12 years ago, after his induction into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, Command Sgt. Maj. David Pitt learned to appreciate community outreach programs. Recently, he decided to pass that appreciation on to his Soldiers.

The SAMC club, created to develop, inspire, and motivate the best leaders possible in the U.S. Army, encourages its members to show personal concern for the needs and welfare of others, explained Pitt, the command sergeant major for the 1-335th Infantry Battalion, 205th Infantry Brigade at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuvering Center, Ind. Pitt said he wanted to continue that tradition in his current unit. He combined the principals from the SAMC with an awareness of monthly commemorations and started a monthly essay program with local schools.

"The Sergeant Major of the Army has asked us to get back to basics," Pitt said.

"Before 9/11, programs like this were happening on a regular basis, we now have a new generation of leaders that are unaware of this. Therefore, if we do not show them that it is important to be involved with our community, the concept will be lost forever."

January was the second month of the battalion's community outreach program. Pitt, his Soldiers and with support from Lt. Col. Craig S. Wagoner, his Battalion Commander, asked students at Doe Creek Middle School and Sugar Creek Elementary, in New Palestine, Ind., to write an essay honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The essays, titled "My Dream," celebrated the historic speech King delivered on Aug. 28, 1963 outlining the world he dreamed of, a world where, "my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the contents of their character."

Wagoner and 1-335 Soldiers presented plaques, coins, and gift cards to the winners of this month's essay contest.

Hailee Holberton, the 7th grade essay winner at the middle school, said she dreams of a world without bullying.

"A lot of people, especially teenagers, try so hard to be popular to 'fit in'," said Holberton, whose older brother lost a classmate to suicide last year.

"They try so hard that they end up hanging out with the wrong people. I think that it is okay to stand out and be your own person. Everyone needs to feel accepted for who they are, not who people want them to be," she added.

Holberton said the best way to stop bullying is to stop it when it happens or report it. The middle school has a way for children to report bullying anonymously.

Brooklyn Brown, a 5th grader at the elementary school, wrote about her dream to some day follow in King's footsteps and minister to people

Tonya Wood, a counselor at Sugar Creek Elementary, said that it is important that children are aware they have a voice, which encourages them in knowing that the values they hold and the opinions that come from them matters.

"This builds their self-confidence," Wood said

Pitt plans to continue the program throughout 2013.

Page last updated Tue February 12th, 2013 at 00:00