On Wednesday afternoon Mrs. Patricia McKeon saw a different side of Fort Irwin and the National Training Center than she did during her first visit to the installation a few years.
This time instead of seeing Fort Irwin Soldiers prepare fellow Soldiers for combat operations in Iraq, Mrs. McKeon, the wife of 25th District U.S. Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon read to children at the Fort Irwin School Age Services Center and to children at one of the many Family Child Care providers as well.
Mrs. McKeon was one of several Congressional spouses who read to Army children throughout the Army's celebration of its 234th birthday.
"You're good kids to stay strong and do what you do," Mrs. McKeon said as she finished reading "Sam the Army Dog" for the second time.
Before reading the book to children at the SAS Center, Mrs. McKeon fielded questions from the children and told them about herself and her travels with Congressman McKeon.
"I've been all over the world going to bases and I visit hospitals," she said, as she expressed her appreciation for the sacrifice and service of each child's father and mother.
"I think a lot of Army families are split up because their parents have to be somewhere else," she said, adding that each of the children is part of the larger Army family.
As she read the story about a family dog, who longed to find a way to help Soldiers, the children quickly helped as her as she read, "He fixes helicopters," pronouncing "helicopters" "heelicopters," before correcting her pronunciation to the children's delight.
One of the first things Mrs. McKeon said she noticed on her drive to Fort Irwin was how the road leading to the post is much improved, as it has gone from a dangerous two-lane road to a safer four-lane highway in places.
"I'm just seeing a different part of it," she said, as she told Fort Irwin Child Youth and School Services employees how she arrived early and enjoyed lunch in the PX food court before reading to the children.
Army Families and the things the Army does to ensure their quality of life often go unnoticed, but they are an important of the nation's Armed Services, she said.
"It's our Armed Services that go and take care of people," she said. "We need their Families to be taken care of."