More than 200 children from the Fort Dix Child Development Center and Elementary School celebrated the Army's 233rd birthday by participating in a patriotic parade June 12.

Kids, teachers and other Team Dix members wore their best red, white and blue outfits while carrying flags and banners as they marched from the Child Development Center to Wurman Hall. "It's all to celebrate the Army birthday," explained Sara Johnson, director of Morale, Welfare and Recreation. "We have a long history, and we care about family."

The Army dates its official birth to June 14, 1775, when the Continental Congress authorized 10 companies of riflemen, approved an enlistment form and appointed a committee to draft rules and regulations for the Army, according to the U.S. Army Center of Military History.

As part of the Secretary of the Army-directed initiative to include Army children in this year's birthday celebration, Command Sgt. Maj. Bonita Davis, installation command sergeant major, read a book entitled "Happy Birthday U.S. Army!" at the parade's conclusion. "I'm a Soldier and a mother. This takes me back to when I used to read stories to my son," said Davis, who added that both her son and nephew are now Soldiers.

"You are all Army Strong," Davis told the children. The book was co-written by Donna M. McGrath and Mary Ellen Pratt, both with Army Child and Youth Services (CYS). The book is designed to teach kids Army history, stress the importance of military parents, and define the significance of military children. The 25-page book features pictures, graphics and text explaining Army history. That history is told through the story of a young boy comparing his biological family to his Army family, and his grandfather's birthday to the Army's birthday.

"We wanted to highlight for young children the importance of what their parents are doing in the Army, the richness of Army history, and their part in this huge and wonderful organization," said McGrath in a June 3 Army News Service article.

Army CYS has prepared 60,000 copies of the book for distribution to Army children worldwide. "The Army provided each one of them a copy of the book," Johnson said of the parading youngsters. Additional copies will be distributed at youth activities during the week.

The Army will continue to celebrate its birthday throughout the week, the highlights of which include a cake cutting at the Pentagon June 13 and a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery June 14 to honor fallen Soldiers. Additional support for the parade was provide by the Fort Dix Fire Department, DoD Police Department, and Training Support Center.