By Gail Parsons, 1st Inf. Div. PostApril 19, 2019
Hundreds of children in powder blue T-shirts called cadence as they paraded from Artillery Parade Field to Cavalry Parade Field for a Month of the Military Child celebration.
Leading the children were members of the Commanding Generals Mounted Color Guard and the MOMC bear mascots who were escorted by Col. Stephen Shrader, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Riley commander and Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew T. Bristow II, garrison senior noncommissioned officer.
"I enjoy this event," Bristow said as he watched the children. "It's nice to see all the children have a good time."
He said many of them have parents who are deployed. He hopes those parents know their children are being cared for by Children and Youth Services staff who are dedicated to them.
When the children arrived at Cavalry Parade Field, they watched a demonstration by the CGMCG. They were rather quiet until the riders drew their sabers, which elicited a chorus of gasps. With each demonstration to follow, the children shouted and cheered.
"I think they were perfect," said Olisa Echeozo, 6, daughter of Chief Warrant Officer Chukwuemeka Echeozo, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry. Division. "My favorite was the charge thingy, the racing and shooting."
After the demonstration, the children sat with their groups and had snacks. They watched CYS staff receive awards from Shrader for implementing a new hiring method, which has been recognized as a best practice and is being replicated at other military installations.
Many of the children were too young to understand why they were being applauded for their role in the military family. But some of the older ones know the significance of MOMC.
"It means that somebody I love is fighting for the whole country," said 11-year-old Daniella Okorie. "It feels good to know you are part of the family that fights."
The parade was one of several events this month that celebrated the children of military parents. Amelia Knapp, Outreach Services director for CYS, said the month has been going well and hundreds of children have been participating in the activities. The successes are a result of a dedicated staff, she said.
"They contribute to the success," she said. "And to see how the community gets involved -- it speaks to the community's commitment. There's nothing that compares to it."
As the children relaxed on the parade field, before loading onto busses, to their delight, five bald eagles circled above.