Military Kids Take Part in American Tradition at White House
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 21, 2003 Thousands of military "brats" took part in a 125-year-old American tradition today the White House Easter Egg Roll.
Victoria Ann Hartel, 14-month-old daughter of Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph Hartel, looks to be having a bunny of a day April 21. Hartel is assigned to Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md. Photo by Kathleen T. Rhem.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
President Bush closed the event to the public this year and designated it a special day for military families. White House officials estimated 12,000 people all active-duty and reserve-component service members and their families -- would attend.
Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Richard Cheney, delivered a well-received message to the children at the event: "We think your moms and dads are terrific," Cheney said in opening the festivities.
"We are proud of all of you the men and women who serve our country, who keep our country safe," she said.
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class James Taylor, who works at the Washington Navy Yard, was there with his three children and wife, Cindy. "I just feel honored to be here," he said. Cindy said the couple's children were enjoying all the costumed storybook and television characters roaming the grounds.
Clifford, the Berenstain Bears, Winnie-the-Pooh, Madeline, and Strawberry Shortcake were just a few of the more than three dozen characters posing for pictures and being quick to offer a handshake or a hug.
Navy Chief Petty Officer Wayne Harders and his 12-year-old daughter Samantha drove up from Norfolk, Va., for the day. Samantha said the best part of the day was "just being on the lawn of the White House."
Her dad agreed. "You never think you're going to be here," he said. "It's awesome."
"It's a wonderful opportunity," Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph Hartel, a sailor assigned to Patuxent River Naval Air Station, said as he posed for a photo with his 14-month-old daughter Victoria Ann. "It feels good to be recognized."