Fort Meade children make video for, take part in 'Kids Inaugural' concert
By Staff Writer Lisa R. Rhodes and Acting Public Affairs Officer Chad T. Jones
Imagine making a video about being a military child because first lady Michelle Obama is interested in your life.
That's what about 20 Fort Meade children and their parents did Jan. 14 when a production crew came to the installation to tape a video about military families.
The film aired on cable television during the inauguration weekend, and also was shown as part of the Disney Channel's live broadcast of "The Kids Inaugural: We Are the Future" concert Monday at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
Several of the children who took part in the video project also attended the concert, which was co-hosted by Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joseph Biden, as a tribute to military families. Musical guests included the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus and Usher.
"I was a little nervous," said Brittney Pennington, 8, about being filmed for the video.
But when she learned that the families who participated in the film would attend the concert as special guests of Obama and Biden, Brittney was thrilled.
"I'm really excited, and I can't wait to go," said the third-grader at Ridgeway Elementary School in Severn.
Several commands on post initially were contacted about the video production by Installation Command Sgt. Maj. Esmond Bakker, who asked service members and their children to participate in the project.
The children were interviewed and filmed at the Child and Youth Services building, The Lanes Fort Meade, the Post Movie Theater and the Children's Library at Potomac Place.
Liane Su, a segment producer with Dempsey Productions, the Los Angeles-based company that created the video, asked the children what life is like at Fort Meade, what they do in their spare time and what it is like to have a parent serving in the military.
"It was really cool," said Rishell Chambers, 12, of her interview at the Children's Library. "I have a lot of friends who don't know about life in the military."
Navy Chief Micki Pennington, Brittney's mother and a communications specialist with Navy Information Operations Command-Suitland, said she was glad Brittney and her daughter Arianna were able to take part in the project because they are dealing with the emotions of their father being deployed in Iraq.
"I'm just really glad they had this kind of support," said Pennington, who was also filmed for the video. "Things like this really help."
Brittney was one of 13 children from Fort Meade who helped mark history at Monday's concert.
But unlike most of the thousands of children who attended the invitation-only event for military children, Fort Meade's youth didn't just see the event, they became part of it when they stood on stage with pop icon Usher to introduce the event's headline act, the Jonas Brothers.
Besides having to stand in front of a live television audience and the new first lady, participants also had to overcome the excitement of working next to their favorite stars backstage.
Gabriel Pisciotti, 13, had bragged about how she wasn't nervous until her chance encounter with the Jonas Brothers.
"Oh my God, it's the Jonas Brothers," a suddenly very nervous Gabriel whispered to her fellow Fort Meade "actresses."
However, some of the children were not quite as nervous. Five minutes before appearing in front of thousands of his peers, Damien Farmer, 11, challenged Usher to an impromptu dance off.
"Man, I was moon walking before you were born," the multi-time Grammy winner told Damien, who responded with some closed-quarter slide stepping.
Participants also got special attention from comedian George Lopez, rapper Bow Wow, Corbin Blue and others.
The event was also exciting for the parents.
"I was very excited for each of them," Air Force Master Sgt. Nichole Jackson said about seeing her children, Devonte, 13, and Alexis, 11, take the stage. She was also glad to see the new first lady, Michelle Obama, take such an interest in military children.
"I thought it was great. I hope she remains this excited for her whole term."
Col. Thomas S. Rickard
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