Children Work on Armed Services YMCA Contest Entries
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 11, 2005 The Armed Services YMCA and the U.S. Navy Museum invited about 30 students from the Fort Belvoir (Va.) Elementary School to the museum at Washington's Navy Yard today to learn the history of the Navy and to work on their 2005 ASYMCA art and essay contest entries.
Ambrianna Bankston, 11, a sixth grader at the Fort Belvoir (Va.) Elementary School, works on her drawings for entry into the 2005 Armed Services YMCA art and essay contest. About 30 children from the school were invited to the Navy Museum at Washingtons Navy Yard for a brief naval history lesson and to work on their projects. Photo by Rudi Williams
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"We have our mobile display of last year's winning poster and essay entries here in the museum," said retired Navy Rear Adm. Frank Gallo, national executive director of the Armed Services YMCA. "We'll give the students a tour of the museum, and they'll have time to work on their essays and posters. These are part of our poster contest, which is part of Military Family Week in November.
"We provide prizes in the form of savings bonds in different categories and age levels for the essay on 'The Value of Reading,' which is an April program," Gallo continued. "The money for the poster contest is provided by Geico Insurance Company, and Lockheed Martin Corp. provides money for the essay contest.
Gallo said each contest normally gets about 2,500 entries.
The essay contest, he explained, promotes reading among children and teens from active duty or retired Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserve families. Children of Defense Department civilian employees are eligible to compete for an honorary category. One $500 first-place prize and one $100 second-place bond will be awarded in categories for Grades 1 and 2, 3 and 4, 5 and 6, and 7 and 8. Students in two high school categories -- Grades 9 and 10 and Grades 11 and 12 -- will be awarded $1,000 bonds for first place, and $200 bonds for second place. In addition, there are two $100 bonds for essays of honorable mention.
The children were welcomed to the museum by Kim Nielsen, director of the Navy Museum, and Navy Capt. Pete Wheeler, acting director of the Naval Historical Center. Both men told the elementary school students that they have children and leaving the family behind is a difficult things, but there is always support available for those left behind.
Gallo told the Fort Belvoir children that not only is the parent in uniform a hero, but also the parent left behind, who must become a mom and dad at the same time. "I'm sure that your mom or dad that's in the service doesn't make the money they could make on the outside," Gallo pointed out. "Which means when something goes wrong when they're gone, your mom, mainly, becomes mechanic, fixes the washing machine, has to worry about the car."
Gallo gave the children a naval history lesson. He told them the American Navy came from the British navy. "There were people your age serving on those ships, because they were small," Gallo said. Therefore, he said, they had to use little people, whom they called "powder monkeys." They would go below and bring up bags of gunpowder to the big cannons between each shot.
"They used small people, and where do you get small people? Before they grow up," Gallo told the youngsters. "So a lot of them just like you served on those ships." He then told them what they'd be doing for their contest entries. "You're going to work on the essays and posters today, and the winners are going to be announced in May, and there are savings bond prizes in different categories," he said. "We get a lot of entries each year. So work hard, and you might be the recipient of one of the savings bonds."
Nielsen invited the children to look at the winning posters and essays on display in the museum. "We'd like to be able to show your work here on display next year," he said. When the children sat down in the museum's conference room to work on their posters and essays, Karin Hill, assistant director of education and public policy, told them that the drawings should be of their military family. She said if they didn't have time to finish what they're working on, they could take it home and mail the results in to ASYMCA.
The deadline for entering the art and essay contests is March 25. More information is available on the ASYMCA Web site or by calling (703) 313-9600, Ext. 10.