By Stephanie Rush, U.S. Army Garrison, Hawaii, Public AffairsJune 13, 2008
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - "Turning 233 years old means there's a lot of candles on a birthday cake, doesn't it'" asked Sgt. Maj. Errol Snyder, operations sergeant major, 2nd Stryker Combat Brigade Team (SBCT), 25th Infantry Division.
The Family Child Care (FCC) offices of Aliamanu Military Reservation, Fort Shafter, Tripler Army Medical Center, Helemano Military Reservation, and Schofield Barracks held a joint birthday celebration, mirroring others going on throughout the world in honor of the Army's 233rd birthday, June 14.
Snyder read from a storybook on the Army's 233rd birthday to a crowd of nearly 60 children, child care providers and staff at a birthday celebration, June 10, at Canby Field.
According to Danna Foster, director, Schofield Barracks FCC, the local celebration was just like any other birthday, complete with cake and singing "Happy Birthday."
However, commemorating the Army's birthday is more than just fun and games. The occasion teaches children about the Army, its history and how everyone, from Soldiers to family members to civilians, are part of one Army family.
"I believe during this time of war, with one brigade in Iraq and another brigade preparing to deploy, celebrations like this, stating who we are - [members of the] Army family - help children and families realize we are all in this together," Foster said, "and we will work together as a team for the best possible outcome.
"We are all here for each other, and we will all support each other because we are part of the Army Team," she added.
Children signed a large birthday banner, which read "Happy 233rd Birthday U.S. Army from FCC." They glued pictures of their families onto the banner, which will be hung outside the FCC office, Building 645, on Leilehua Avenue, Schofield Barracks.
After decorating the banner, playing parachute games, and blowing bubbles, Soldiers from the 2nd SBCT helped the children try on Army uniforms. They let the keiki play with tools like shovels, radio phones and binoculars.
Unlike children who go to Child Development Centers on post, children in the FCC program are cared for in an on-post home with up to five other children. The FCC is responsible for overseeing the home child care program, as well as for training and supporting military spouses who want to operate a home day care.
Even though each FCC provider operates independently, coordinated activities like the Army birthday celebration and the Month of the Military Child celebration's field day, held April 25, provide an opportunity for children and providers to meet others in the program and belong to a group.
"Functions like this build a camaraderie in the FCC team and allow children to meet and work with other children their age," Foster explained. "It's a time for social gathering and celebration, a change from the routines of the day."
She added, "Celebrations like this give opportunities outside the normal day [for parents] to participate in their children's lives and enjoy being an Army family."
Other Army birthday celebrations around the island
Aca,!Ac At Aliamanu Military Reservation
The Child Development Center (CDC) celebrated the Army birthday, June 12. Parents and children listened to a reading of the Army birthday storybook, completed a craft activity, and enjoyed cake and punch.
Aca,!Ac At Helemano Military Reservation
The CDC celebrated the Army birthday, June 13. Soldier parents read the Army birthday storybook to children. Activities were held in every classroom, and the mural "Why We Are Army Strong Kids" is displayed outside the classrooms. Guests enjoyed cake.
School Age Services celebrated the birthday throughout this week. Children wrote patriotic stories, which were displayed around the center. Using people in families, history and other patriotic events, children created a "path of patriotism," which was done in groups and pieced together. Older children used the Internet, books and family stories to create birthday cards.
Aca,!Ac At Fort Shafter
The CDC celebrated the birthday, June 11. The center was decorated with flags and patriotic streamers, forming a maypole. In each classroom, a military parent read the birthday storybook. Various activities were included in the day's lesson plans. Everyone enjoyed cake and juice for a snack.
The Middle School and Teen Center celebrated the Army birthday, June 14, with a barbecue, kite making and poster design activity.
Aca,!Ac At Schofield Barracks
The Teen Center celebrated the birthday, June 9 and 11. June 9, teenagers participated in a cupcake decorating contest, a barbecue and cake walk. June 11, they visited the Tropic Lightning Museum to learn about the past and present accomplishments of Soldiers.
The Peterson CDC celebrated the birthday June 13. The front lobby was decorated in red, white and blue streamers, and a collage of Army children's pictures was displayed. Parents were invited to classrooms to enjoy cake.
The Schofield Barracks CDC celebrated the birthday, June 13, too. Children in all classrooms made a large poster-sized card for each age group and invited parents to sign the poster. Two retired Soldiers and three active duty parents, served as guest speakers, read the Army birthday storybook. Cake was served in the afternoon.