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Public Service Recognition Week Creates Awareness

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 6, 2005 – Started in 1985, the Public Service Recognition Week event held on the National Mall here each May is meant to educate the public.

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Tanner Thomas, 10, gets a lesson in camouflage face painting at the Marine Corps exhibit on the National Mall in Washington during Public Service Recognition Week. Thomas was in town with a group from Potomack Intermediary School in West Virginia. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The week's annual activities are repeated in communities across the nation. Events tied to the week, May 2-8, give taxpayers a chance to see some of what they're paying for and to better understand how people in public service help society.

The Kadragick family from Long Island, N.Y., was in the nation's capital on a four-day weekend. They were impressed by the amount of little-known technology the government possesses, especially the military.

"We're overwhelmed by the amount of technology and the number of agencies," said Jeff Kadragick, father of the family. "(The event) is a great recruiting vehicle."

Some of that technology was a favorite of Jennifer Kadragick, 12, and her brother Daniel, 7. Both described the Army's Stryker vehicles parked outside the Defense Department's exhibit tent as "cool!"

The National Security Agency's cryptology demonstration was a winner too -- so much so that Jeff guessed Jennifer would start using the decoding wheel that she picked up at the demonstration to send e-mails and instant messages to her friends.

Their mother, Lucille Kadragick, saw through the fun and games and found education. She said the event provided more opportunities for learning than just those found at the exhibits.

"I got to explain to my children that these are the people who are serving our country and protecting us," she said. "I got to explain to my 7-year-old what 'recognition' means."

Jeff said it also fosters pride in the country and a gratitude for those who serve it.

The exhibitors from all branches of the service all agreed that the week helps create awareness about what they do and who they are in a unique way.

"We are here for the public's benefit," said Andy Stephens, 11th Wing historian at Bolling Air Force Base here. "(We get to) explain how we're spending your tax dollars."

It also introduces the possibility of civil service to the young visitors who stream through and may not have decided which path they'll take when they finish their education, and some cases, it may help them decide that a military academy is an option worth considering for post-secondary education.

The Air Force Academy is a PSRW regular exhibitor . The event, said Eddie Lee, the academy's community relations chief, provides an opportunity to increase awareness and understanding about the institution.

The annual celebration on the Mall also gives visitors the chance to search job databases of government agencies and learn about the more than 100 federal civil and military agencies and programs with representatives on hand to answer questions and share information. The event also includes free health screenings and special attractions for kids. This is the 17th year DoD has participated in the Public Service Recognition Week event.

Exhibits included equipment like the Army's Abram tank and Patriot missile launcher, a Navy F-18 fighter jet flight simulator, a Marine 155 mm Howitzer field artillery system and an Air Force version of the Huey utility helicopter.

Military units represented included the 101st Airborne and the 3rd Infantry divisions, both of which saw major combat action in Iraq, and U.S. Special Operations and U.S. Northern commands, both of which have occupied key roles in the global war on terrorism.

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Public Service Recognition Week

Click photo for screen-resolution imagePfc. Michael Yarme, with the Virginia Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, takes a spin on the Air Force's "Extreme Air" anti-gravity gyroscope. The exhibit was part of the display presented by various military services and agencies for Public Service Recognition Week. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageLucille Kadragick, her daughter, Jennifer, 12, and son, Daniel, 7, pick up some information in the Defense Department's tent on the National Mall in Washington during Public Service Recognition Week. The family -- including dad, Jeff, were on vacation from Long Island, N.Y. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley  
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