FORT MEADE, Md. - On a chilly Sunday afternoon in March in Portland, Maine, there was nothing but warmth within the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital.

Children snuggled securely with stuffed animals and blankets; employees huddled together as they tightly clutched their coffee cups; and family members held the hands of loved ones-all visibly attempting to get a firm grip on anxiety.

Then The United States Army Field Band arrived, and, to the delight of patients, family members and staff alike, the Soldiers' Chorus sent melodious notes throughout the hospital.

With bright walls, skylights and wonderful outdoor views as the backdrop, the Soldiers' Chorus belted out folksongs and musical theater selections that left the audience mesmerized.

"Our daughter was supposed to go home today, but we wanted her to be able to hear the singing. She just loves music," expressed one parent to Master Sgt. William Elliott, a percussionist with the Concert Band. Another parent expressed, "We just enjoyed this so much. It helps bring hope to us."

The United States Army Field Band also had the opportunity to meet and interact with the children and their families. Along with wondrous harmonies, the Concert Band and Soldiers' Chorus came equipped with the ability to make dog tags for the kids.

When asked to describe the experience, Master Sgt. Thomas Enokian, a percussionist with The Field Band, said, "The parents took a back seat and let their children really take part in the process."

The performance was relaxing and provided a good counterpoint for those undergoing medical treatments or awaiting test results, and the ability to interact with band Soldiers added a cheerful touch to the often antiseptic, stressful world associated with hospital environments. The event provided a wonderful escape for the kids.

Rosemary Herd, a pediatrics nurse (and herself a former military spouse) stated, "This helps us all reconnect; it meant so much for you [The Field Band] to be here today."

"You [The Field Band] were like a ray of sunshine for us," raved Sue Walker, Child Life Coordinator for the hospital.

The 26,000 square-foot, 48-bed inpatient unit of the children's hospital provides infants, young children and teenagers benefits from the latest in health care. The staff and administration believe that each child is a star, and they hold a special place in the world as well as in our hearts.

The Soldier-musicians from The United States Army Field Band emphatically agree, and these NCO's personify a true commitment to our Army and our Nation. Their dedication illustrates why the Secretary of the Army dedicated 2009 as The Year of the NCO.

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