One by one, the young women approached the microphone to express their thanks and read aloud their application essays. Curious onlookers passed by with shopping carts.

This was the scene Friday at the annual Scholarships for Military Children ceremony at the Commissary. Five winners each received a $1,500 scholarship.

The Scholarships for Military Children, administered by Fisher House Foundation, is among many programs initiated by the Defense Commissary Agency to involve commissaries even more deeply in the fabric of the military community.

"It's a great honor," Garrison commander Col. Bob Pastorelli said. "They have to earn it."

The honorees include Jenny Gage, a sophomore majoring in psychology at Tennessee-Chattanooga; Lauren Radziminski, a junior in international relations at Alabama; Callie Downs, a freshman in nursing at Auburn; Ashley Elliott, a freshman in mechanical engineering at Alabama; and Kyle White, a junior in industrial engineering at Mississippi State.

"It's very meaningful to me, and a very important day in my life," Gage said.

"I'd like to thank all of you for this opportunity," Elliott said.

White, the daughter of Geri and Brad White, is taking a summer class at Mississippi State so was unable to attend the ceremony. Her mother accepted the award on her behalf. "She truly appreciates the scholarship you have given to her," Geri White said.

Each year the scholarships are open to qualified sons and daughters of U.S. military ID cardholders including active duty, retirees, National Guard and Reserve members. Graduating high school seniors, as well as students enrolled in a four-year program, are eligible to apply. A minimum 3.0 grade point average and demonstration of community involvement are among the requirements for consideration. This year applicants submitted an essay on the following topic: "What would you place in a time capsule to help people opening the capsule in the next century understand military life today' Explain your choice(s)."