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USO Hosts Bidens' Reading of Children's Book for Military Families

Saturday, June 09, 2012

By Joseph Andrew Lee 

"Natalie sits on the floor of her room with stuffed animals all around her. Her dolls are here. Her books are here. Even her dog Webby is here. But one thing isn't here. Daddy isn't here." 

That’s a passage from Dr. Jill Biden's new children’s book, “Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops,” which she read aloud to military families today at the National Guard Armory in Washington, D.C.  The book is a personal account of her granddaughter Natalie’s experience while her father was deployed to Iraq in 2008.

Vice President Joe Biden introduced his wife and explained how the book came about. His grandchildren Natalie and Robert, then ages 4 and 2, were spending the night while his son Beau was serving overseas.

“They called us Nana and Pop,” Vice President Biden said. “One night, after Nana was finished saying prayers, Natalie caught Nana tiptoeing out of the room and gave her some valuable advice."

“Nana,” a small voice said from out of the darkness. “Don’t forget: God bless the troops.”

That became the title for the book, a story that describes what it feels like for children whose parents are deployed.

Nathan Dubuque, the 9-year-old son of local Navy Lt. Cmdr. Mike Dubuque and USO volunteer Angie Dubuque, can relate. He sat in the front row during the reading, following along in his own copy of the book, provided free to all the children in attendance by the USO.

“The book is kinda like my dad, because one part of the year he’ll probably go to Afghanistan,” Nathan said. “It’s sad when he’s not there.”

The private book reading was hosted by the USO of Metropolitan Washington and also included snacks and arts and crafts activities.

“In the course of the millions of encounters we have each year with military families, we learn an awful lot about the stresses and the challenges that military children face,” said Sloan Gibson, USO President and CEO. “Dr. Biden’s book really brings that story to light for children and adults, so that they can begin to understand the impact of being a child in a military family today.

“We are so grateful for the awareness that the book creates as well as Dr. Biden’s very generous commitment to donate all of the net author proceeds from the book to the USO to support scholarships for children of troops who have either been injured or lost their lives.”

“When your mommy or daddy is away, it’s hard,” Vice President Biden said. “It’s a hard thing. It’s a difficult thing. But Jill found a way to make it feel better.”

* See more images from the event on our Flickr set. 

* * *

Photo captions: Top, Dr. Jill Biden and her granddaughter Natalie Biden share their personal deployment experience to military children of the D.C. National Guard as they read aloud from Dr. Biden's new book "Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops" on Saturday. Vice President Joe Biden was also on hand to extend his thanks to the Guardsmen and their families for ther service and sacrifice. Bottom, military kids of the D.C. National Guard read along as Dr. Jill Biden reads from her new children's book. Hosted by USO of Metropolitan of Washington, the book reading included arts and crafts stations, snacks and family-friendly takeaways. (USO Photos by Dennis Brack) 

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