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Filmmaker Gives Kids a Way to Express Patriotism, Send Messages to Troops

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2003 – An award-winning California filmmaker has launched a Web site where children can express their patriotism, send messages to the troops and learn how to help others around the world.

Under the Stars and Stripes, "gives kids a voice," said Diane Eskenazi, who has produced more than 80 children's films. The site features children's drawings and messages, patriotic animals, sing-a-longs, prayers for peace, child-sized historical facts, and ways children can give to those less fortunate than themselves. The site displays links to numerous charity and volunteer organizations.

"After 9-11, I wanted to do something positive," Eskenazi said. Wielding her professional skills, she visited schools, dance studios and martial-arts academies to film children singing classic American songs about patriotism. Then she decided to give kids across the country a way to express their thanks and feelings for the troops. She also wanted them to have a chance to see other kids' messages.

"I wanted to open their eyes up a little bit to what is going on in the world and give them the inspiration to think that they can make a difference whether it's writing the troops, uplifting someone's spirits that way, or getting involved in some charity that helps kids here or overseas," she said. "There's a lot of ways throughout the Web site that kids can really feel empowered that they can do something."

The site, which became active about three weeks ago, was created by adults, but it's designed for children, she said. "The whole Web site is very interactive so that children can share with each other what's important to them and to inspire each other.

"What I keep hearing from children," she continued, "is that they are concerned, that they want peace. Even children of the youngest ages express that desire. They want to support the troops, and they want to know they're secure."

The 9-11 terrorist attack shattered the feeling of peace, freedom and security that the United States has known so long, she said. "The film and the Web site focus on what's wonderful about this country," she concluded.

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