PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. - Hundreds of community members turned out for the Celebrating Military Children festival at Ord Military Community April 14.

The free event at the General Stilwell Community Center focused on educating parents and children about child-abuse prevention, safety, health and other local resources available in the community.

Also, there was a whole lot of fun and free food for the whole family, especially the little ones. Activities included music, dancing, face painting, a petting zoo, pony rides, play areas, arts and crafts, food and more.

Additionally, the Presidio's Child, Youth and School Services hosted events throughout the month for community children. The activities included a parade, egg hunt, visit to the MY Museum, a petting zoo visit, a potluck, a bring-your-bike-to-school day, and beautification projects, as well as much more.

It is estimated that there are approximately 1.2 million American children and youth under the age of 18 that have a parent serving in the military, according to the Department of Defense Education Activity. Many of those children and youth have had one or both parents deployed multiple times.

Children of military families represent the nation in ways that would make any American proud, the website says. They are ambassadors--who build bonds and make lasting connections and contributions to the nation and world. They are adventurers--often leading mom and dad to the local museums, tourist sites, shops and eateries. They are linguists-learning languages through immersion and foreign language instruction classes, and build bridges between cultures with just a simple smile or a friendly wave.

The Army first observed the Month of the Military Child in 1986, to honor the youngest members of the Army community. As it was celebrated again this year--26 years later-- recognition of the sacrifices and strength of America's military children could be considered more vital than ever.