FORT DETRICK, Md. (June 17, 2009) -- When a group of children at Fort Detrick's Forest Glen Annex Child Development Center (CDC) met Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey, Jr. they rose to attention and fired off a bevy of enthusiastic salutes.
Casey came to the CDC, June 17, to help the children celebrate the Army's Birthday. About 20 children gathered in a red, white and blue decorated room for the celebration there.
"Do you know how old the Army is'" Casey asked.
The chorus of replies got the answer -- 234 years -- mostly right. The next question: "Do you know how old I am'"
Despite some of the answers being "234 years old," Casey took the replies in stride and laughed with the kids.
Casey read the book, "Sam the Army Dog" to the attentive group, even getting the kids involved as they responded to questions and quickly learned and chanted some of the story's recurring themes.
Sam is a dreamer and a patriot who longs to be a 'real Army dog.' During the course of the story, Sam meets Cordymay, a Red Cross therapy dog trained to work with wounded warriors at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Sam was introduced in last year's Army birthday book.
During the climactic meeting, surprise guest Cordymay slipped quietly into the room, but as soon as one child spotted the dog, gleeful chaos erupted.
Cordymay, Sam's inspiration in the story, was swamped with affection for a few moments, but the children settled down quickly to hear the rest of the story.
As Casey told the story of Sam, the "dog who wanted to be all the dog he could be," he reminded the listening children how important they were and how important their families were to the Army.
At the end of the book, Casey and the kids sang "Happy Birthday" to the Army, and then shared cake and punch.