Circus Salutes Military Children, Families

By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 10, 2009 - The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus invited more than 300 military families to their show at the Patriot Center here last night for "thrills and chills" under the big top in recognition of the Month of the Military Child.

"This is so important, because the kids serve alongside their parents," circus spokesman Bob Swaney said. "The kids go through deployments and meeting new friends when their military parents are constantly moving. They deal with a lot, and they take it all in stride. Tonight is especially for them."

Ringling Bros. hosted the children of veterans and currently serving troops from the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, the Believe in Tomorrow's Children Foundation, Our Military Kids, the National Military Family Association and the Coast Guard Morale, Well-being and Recreation Program.

The lead Ringling elephant, endowed with her military dog tags, joined the children for photos in the center ring as the Military District of Washington Armed Forces Color Guard kicked off the night's festivities.

The National Military Family Association selected 12-year-old Camden Doerer from northern Virginia to be guest ringmaster for the performance. The sixth grader is the son of Army Col. Robert Doerer, a helicopter pilot currently assigned in Germany who has been deployed to Iraq several times. The family plans to join him in Germany in June.

"This is a great experience," Camden said. "I'm here representing the Army, my dad and other kids like me. I can't wait to see him later this summer."

Joining Camden at the circus were his mother, Tammy, younger sister, Casey, and other relatives.

"I am so happy the National Military Family Association did this for the kids," Tammy Doerer said. "They deserve it. The free tickets were just a great gesture. We are looking forward to joining my husband later this year."

After his guest ringmaster duties, Camden received a certificate in front of the crowd from ringmaster Chuck Wagner.

"We would like to salute our very special guests at this evening's performance of the Greatest Show on Earth," Wagner said. "April is The Month of the Military Child, and we extend a warm welcome to all the children of our armed forces."

Wagner urged the audience to continue showing appreciation to the nation's servicemembers and their families in their everyday lives.

"The next time you see a member of our armed forces in uniform, please look them in the eyes and tell them, 'Thank you for your service to America,'" he said.

*Related Sites:*
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors [ ]
Believe in Tomorrow's Children [ ]
Our Military Kids [ ]
National Military Family Association [ ]
Coast Guard Morale, Well-being and Recreation Program [ ]
Circus Salutes Military Children, Families [ ]