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Jessica's Birthday Wish

Jessica Crockett had a very special birthday wish for her birthday this year. For her 9th birthday she wanted to thank the men & women who have served this country. Jessica prepared a speech and gave treats to the soldiers at the 1st Battalion 293rd Infantry on Saturday June 14th. Her kindness by sharing her birthday with the soldiers touched everyone present.

Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette

8-year-old thanks soldiers

Eight-year-old Jessica Crockett’s wish was to celebrate and share her ninth birthday party with someone special – a lot of special someones.

She got her wish Saturday when her family – helped out by friends, relatives and local businesses – treated nearly 200 soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 293rd Infantry to red, white and blue cupcakes at the battalion’s armory on Cook Road.

“I wanted to do it because you do so much and fight for us,” Jessica said.

Her parents were amazed when initially Jessica told them her wish.

“Out of the blue, she came to us and said she wanted a party to thank the soldiers,” her father, Ron, said.

Jessica, who will be in fourth grade at Covington Elementary, said she does not know anyone personally who is a soldier, but she is aware of what soldiers do because of her mom.

“My mom helps the soldiers get radios,” Jessica said.

Tammy Crockett works in international programs at ITT Exelis, which makes military communications equipment.

After hearing her daughter’s wish, Tammy discussed the idea with co-worker and retired Army veteran Tony Tabler, who had all the right connections and made it happen, she said.

“I looked at a photo of Tammy’s 8-year-old daughter and said, ‘How can we not do this?’.” Tabler said, taking a break from hanging up thank-you posters to the soldiers that were made by Covington Elementary third-graders.

Leah Morgan, Jessica’s teacher, was also in attendance.

After she heard what Jessica was doing, she organized the poster campaign and got all 125 third-graders and their teachers involved.

“Jessica has a big heart, so I was not surprised at her idea,” Morgan said.

In addition to Jessica’s generous and kind-hearted gesture, there was just an edge of some good, old-fashioned sibling rivalry at the party.

Michelle Crockett, 11, said her little sister’s idea was “really cool,” but admitted she wished she had thought of it first.

“I really wanted to do it after I heard about it,” Michelle said, looking at her sister out of the corner of her eyes.

Jessica smiled coyly and proudly raised her chin in triumph, and both girls laughed.

Standing in the center of the soldiers, Jessica delivered a speech she had written that read, in part: “I bet that each day you fight for us, it fills up more love in God’s heart and I just want to thank you guys. Because of what you sacrifice, we can enjoy freedom.”

After, she stood and thanked and shook the hand of each soldier after they had helped themselves to a patriotic cupcake.

The event was held prior to Jessica’s birthday, which is July 14 because Saturday was the U.S. Army’s 239th birthday and because the soldiers had just returned from a two-week training operation.

Battalion commander Lt. Col. Gregory Marcuson presented Jessica with an honorary coin bearing the insignia of the 1st Battalion, 293rd Infantry.

“Not everyone gets one of these,” Marcuson said, asking the soldiers to raise their hands if they had been given one. A small handful raised their hands.

“When I see an 8eight-year-old girl do something like this, I don’t know what to say, there are no words,” Marcuson said. “Your mom and dad must be so proud of you. I’m proud of you.”

vsade@jg.net

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