MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The Commanding General of the Combat Center took a break in his busy schedule to read a book to the first and second graders at the Condor Elementary School.
Brigadier Gen. H. Stacy Clardy III and his wife, Alison, read “Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot,” written by Margot Theis Raven.
The story takes place in Berlin in 1942 during World War II. During a grim time of war, an American pilot, Lt. Gail S. Halvorsen, dropped parachutes of candy out of his plane for the war-ridden children of Germany, whose act of kindness gave the children hope during a time of sorrow.
The children of the Combat Center listened intently and watched a picture slideshow of the book while Clardy read. Later, they were given the opportunity to make and decorate their own candy parachutes and wooden airplanes to better understand the story and remind themselves of the kindness shown by the Americans during the second world war.
“Alison and I believe reading is very important to the development of children,” Clardy said. “I don’t think we can read too much, and I don’t think they can read too much. Our Marines and our families need to know that their commanding general cares about their education because that’s their future.”
Parents saw the event as a great opportunity to teach their children history and about supporting the military, said Colleen Watts, a mother who attended the event with her daughter Kayla. “I wanted her to get a better understanding of how the military supports us and how we can support the military,” Watts said. “It’s a chance to discuss history and the military with my daughter.”
The general signed and handed out books to the children after the reading. He wrote inside the cover of each book “Keep Wishing.”
“It’s [not only] about the history of the book, it’s about what the book represents,” Clardy said. “You look at children, even as wars are going on, what you see in the children, and not always in the adults, is hope.”
Clardy also encouraged the families to get involved with their child’s school.
“I just ask that all the Marines and parents associated with the Combat Center to stay engaged with the schools,” he said. “Only through [parental] support can we have the highest levels of education for their children.”