FORT MYER, Va. (Army News Service, June 18, 2010) -- Secretary of the Army John McHugh continued the 235th Army Birthday celebration with the reading of this year's Army birthday book June 17, at Fort Myer's Child Development Center.

It's important to be here because we often talk about how important families are to the Army, said McHugh. "Kids are an integral part of that, they sacrifice when mom or dad goes away."

McHugh read the birthday book to a room full of 4- and 5-year-old children. Some of the children sat on the laps of Soldiers, those laps belonging to their parents. Others said their parents were deployed but would be back soon.

McHugh read the book, teaching the children about George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, the important role women have in the Army, the history of the Buffalo Soldiers, the history of code talkers, and the important role civilians play.

"Before George Washington was the president, he was a Soldier. Just like today's Soldiers, he put on a uniform and did good things," said McHugh. "You've also seen people who don't do things in uniform, but they do very important things in the Army, and they are a part of the Army family as well, your teachers here are civilians at the CDC that take care of you."

This year's book was all-inclusive, mentioning the National Guard and Army Reserve.

"The diversity of all the Army birthday celebrations reflects the diversity of the Army itself," said McHugh.

Angela Schoffstall and Donna McGrath both with the Family and Morale, Welfare, Recreation Command, developed the book, which is called "Happy Birthday U.S. Army."

"The Army is proud of your families and thankful for what you do, they take care of all of us all the time. They say together we are Army Family strong," said McHugh to the class.

The young students presented McHugh with two giant happy birthday Army cards.

Free copies of the book may be available at local child and youth services development centers. The book is available free online.