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Children Of Deployed Service Members Keep Busy Through Trying Times

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FORT BRAGG, N.C. — With thousands of local service members deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a lot is being done to keep the children left at home busy.

The children at McNair Elementary school know exactly who their heroes are. Half of the students at the school have a deployed parent.

"They are our heroes because they are trying to defend us," said 10-year-old Scotty Hill.

With their special song, "You Are My Hero," and personal pictures, the students made a CD that has been sent to hundreds of troops, including 9-year-old Sage Martinez's mother.

"I hope she'll be proud that we care for her and all the other parents oversees," he said.

McNair Elementary also has a wall of heroes. Marco Rojas contributed a picture of his father standing by a piece of a Sadaam Hussein statue they took back to camp. Guidance counselors say these kinds of activities can be good therapy for children.

"It helps them stay involved. It helps them stay in touch," guidance counselor Alvis Smith said.

First lady Mary Easley believes books can help comfort the children, too. On Thursday, she and the governor announced Scholastic Inc. will donate 50,000 books statewide to children of deployed parents.

"It can really be a pathway for these children to work through their feelings," she said.

Fort Bragg's Holbrook Elementary School has also created a CLUB USA, a support club for children of deployed parents.


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