By Bill Mossman, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsApril 9, 2010
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS - Scores of young children marched their way through the hallways of the Child Development Center, here, in patriotic fashion, April 2, proudly displaying the American flag while humming tried-and-true nationalistic tunes like "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "Yankee Doodle Dandy."
Red, white and blue were undoubtedly the colors of the day inside the friendly confines of the facility along McMahon Road.
Outside, however, only gray skies ruled.
But although rainy weather had cancelled the scheduled outdoor parade, even the wettest conditions couldn't put a damper on the spirits of those wanting to officially kick off "Month of the Military Child" in grand style.
"This red, white and blue parade is just something (to build) the children's self-esteem," said Sherilyn Tokunaga, training and curriculum specialist for the Child, Youth and School Services program, as she offered high-fives to preschool-aged children strutting by and sporting Uncle Sam-type hats.
"It's also an opportunity for us to acknowledge them by saying, 'Hey, great job!' and 'You're our heroes, too!'" she added.
Around the world, military children are being honored this month for the roles they play in the armed forces community. Parades, like the one held at the Schofield Barracks' CDC, as well as picnics, recreations fairs, festivals and a slew of other events are being staged by garrisons as the military pays tribute to the daily sacrifices its children make in supporting America's service members.
Locally, scheduled activities are reserved for Army children enrolled in CYSS, Tokunaga explained, although some events, she added, are open to the entire military community:
Aca,!AcThe SKIES (School of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration, and Skills) Unlimited Performing Arts' presentation, "A Day of Fantasy Fables, Fairy Tales and Fun," slated for April 15-22, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., at Wheeler Middle School Auditorium, and
Aca,!Ac"PT in the Park," which was held earlier this week at Bennett Youth Center Field, Schofield Barracks. (See Related article: PT in the Park: Children and parents laugh, dance, run and jump through the rain)
"This is the only time of the year in which we beef up our program and spend extra money on events and activities," Tokunaga said. "Like this month, we're bringing in Wayne Watkins, a local artist who does children music.
"This month is one of only two times each year in which we hold a carnival, the only other time is at the end of summer," she added.
Twenty-four years ago, the Department of Defense designated April as the Month of the Military Child. In remembering the legacy of former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, the celebration recognizes the important role that children play in the military community by applauding them for their sacrifices and courage.
More than 1.7 million American children under the age of 18 have at least one parent serving in the military, Tokunaga said. Of that number, the U.S. Army has more than 900,000 children with one or two parents having deployed multiple times.
This year's theme is "Military Children - Everyday Heroes in Your Community." Part of the emphasis is that Army children and youth are not only found on installations, but in every corner and community in the world.
"What we're hoping is that, like every year, our activities are fun for these children," Tokunaga explained. "We try to focus on the kind of tools they might need, like resiliency, making friends and cooperation, to help these children better cope with military life."
Month of the Military Child Calendar of Events
Aca,!AcApril 9 - Family Barbecue, Fort Shafter Child Development Center, 11 a.m.
Family Picnic, Aliamanu Military Reservation, 11 a.m.
Aca,!AcApril 15 - Muffins & Milk with Mom, Petersen CDC, Schofield Barracks, 2 p.m.
Federal Fire Truck visit, AMR CDC, 10:30 a.m.
Aca,!AcApril 17 - Teen Lock-In around the world, Bennett Youth Center, Schofield Barracks, 8 p.m.
Aca,!AcApril 20 - Radford High Color Guard presentation, AMR CDC, 10 a.m.
Aca,!AcApril 23 - Strawberry Shortcake Munch & Learn, Schofield Barracks' CDC, 3 p.m.
Parade & Cadence, AMR CDC, 3 p.m.
Aca,!AcApril 24 - SKIES presents "A Day of Fantasy, Fables, Fairy Tales and Fun," Wheeler Middle School Auditorium, 10 a.m.
Aca,!AcApril 27 - PT in the Park, Fort Shafter gymnasium, 6:30-7 a.m.
Wheels Day, Schofield Barracks CDC, 9-11 a.m.
Aca,!AcApril 30 - Family Carnival, AMR, 3 p.m.
Family Fun Day Bike, Rodeo & Picnic, Petersen CDC, Schofield Barracks, 3 p.m.