'Students' Day' on National Mall Fascinates Youth, Adults
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 10, 2002 It was "Students' Day" during the Public Service Recognition Week celebration here on the National Mall. Students from across the country stopped by to see what was happening.
The Next Generation government workers observed a number of military exhibits at the site. They climbed on Army M1A2 Abrams tanks and sat in Apache helicopters. Navy seamen demonstrated their dive demonstration tank, and Marines pointed out the advantages of Super Cobra helicopters and light armored vehicles. At the Air Force exhibit they saw the service's NASCAR race car, F-16 "Fighting Falcon" and the Air Force Academy's falcon mascot.
Many other defense organizations strutted their stuff during the celebration, including the latest mapping and imagery products from the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, an Air Force weather booth, special operations forces exhibit, Army airborne forces, and much more.
There were many hands-on demonstrations and plenty of keepsakes.
A Navy HUMMV fascinated Adrian J. Pillion, 11, of Kenmore Middle School in Buffalo, N.Y., with a .50-caliber machine gun mounted atop. "I think this is pretty cool because you get to see all the guns and how everything works. And you learn what's it's like to be in the Marines, Army or whatever you're in. It's pretty cool because you learn some stuff you never learned before.
"Ever since I was seven, I was thinking of going into the Marines," said Pillion, whose grandfather served in the Marines Corps.
Eric Steidle, 20, was walking around the mall and happened to see all the tents and wanted to find out what was going on. "It's great to have the public get a better view of what the military does for public service," said Steidle, a sophomore at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
The Air Force recruiting vehicle is powerful and fast."I think the car is tight; its got 800 horsepower 220 miles per hour," said Joshua Clark, 12, a sixth grader at the Southeast Academy in Washington. "I came out with my school, the sixth, seventh and eighth grades to have a good time."
David Dedonato, 14, of St. Teresa Middle School in Palatine, Ill, was in Washington on his eighth grade class trip. "Our bus driver told us about this exhibit and we stopped by yesterday and came back today," said Dedonato. "This is pretty interesting with all kinds of great stuff here.
Dedonato was outfitted with airborne gear, but said he doesn't want to jump out of airplanes. "I want to join the Navy SEALS or the Marines."
Jessie Feid, 14, an eighth grader at St. Teresa Middle School in Palatine, Ill., thought it was "cool" to have her face painted in military camouflage colors by Army Sgt. 1st Class Joe Bare of the 8th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, Fort Campbell, Ky. However, Feid said she wants to serve in the Air Force.
Daniel Gummere, 18, a senior at Chelsea High School in Silver Spring, Md., said his dad, a Vietnam veteran, wants him to join one of the military services, "but I'm not going to. I'm going to the College of Charleston (S.C.) and major in business."
Tyrone Butts, 19, a Job Corps carpenter trainee, said climbing the Army's 24-foot "rock tower" was difficult, but he made it to the top. "I came out here yesterday and tried to climb it two or three times, but today I finally got it," Butts said.
While it was Students' Day, many adults still stopped by to check out the action, like Sandra Camille, 26, a visitor from Montreal, Canada. Camille climbed the tower out of curiosity. "This was the first time I've done this and it was a challenge," said the Montreal nurse. "I liked it. It's good exercise for the muscles."