Manassas Journal Messenger | Vice President’s wife reads to kids at Quantico

The vice president’s wife came to the Quantico Marine Corps base Thursday to honor Marines’ service to their country by acknowledging that which is most important to them — their children.

Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Richard B. Cheney, came to Ashurst Elementary School at Quantico to visit and read to about 60 third-graders from Ashurst as well as Russell Elementary School, the other elementary school on the base.

“I wanted to come here because of the personal sacrifices Marines and other servicemembers make for our country,” said Cheney after the presentation. “This is a way for me to do something special for them.”

Cheney, an author of seven fiction and nonfiction books, has recently written two children’s books — “America: A Patriotic Primer,” published in 2002, and “A Is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women,” published in September.

Cheney said that she visits schools from time to time, but the Quantico visit is just the second time she has made a special effort to visit children of U.S. servicemen and women. The other visit was to a Florida base where many of the children’s parents where deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Before she read to the third-graders, Cheney made an appearance as the “special guest for the reading corner” during the student closed-circuit morning news program, WKID, broadcast to all 200 students in the two elementary schools.

Cheney’s message to the children was of patriotism and knowledge of this country’s history.

She held up her first children’s book, “America: A Patriotic Primer,” which depicts on its cover an illustration of children reenacting the raising of the American flag by Marines at Iwo Jima during World War II.

“[The Marines] valor kept us free,” she said.

“We are lucky to live in a country where we have great ideas and ideals,” Cheney told the children during the broadcast. “The most important thing [about the United States] is that everyone is equal. Everyone has an equal chance to become president or [whatever they want to be.]”

Cheney then spent about a half hour in an intimate setting with the group of third-graders who sat in a semi-circle around her chair. Behind Cheney were large colorful posters featuring pages from her book.

Cheney explained to the children that Abigail Adams was the wife of John Adams, who was both the first vice president when George Washington was president and then the second president of the United States.

“Does anyone know who the vice president is now?” Cheney asked with a smile on her face.

When numerous children raised their hands with the correct answer, Cheney said she was pleased.

Cheney told the children that Abigail Adams chose not to live in Washington, D.C., but remained in her “small home” in Massachusetts where she often gave shelter to soldiers passing through her area.

Abigail Adams also was one to speak her mind about the lack of women’s rights. “She complained about it,” Cheney said.

The children said they enjoyed their visit with Cheney. They also seemed to be paying close attention to her. There was no squirming, talking or laughing among any of the gathered 8- and 9-year-olds.

“The best part was when she told us that [Abigail Adams] stayed in her little house,” said Amber Verwargo, 8.

“I like it when she told us about her books,” said Liz Kleveno, 9.

Emily Knowles, 8, picked up on Cheney’s suggestion that the children should keep a journal, which is similar to the letters written in years past that reveal so much about life at that time.

“I think it’s a good idea to keep a journal so that when you are grown-up you can go back and read what it was like to be in third grade and see how much you’ve change,” Emily said.

After her presentation to the children, Cheney said she became interested in promoting American history to American children while she served as chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1986 to 1993.

“It seemed to me that there is a great national challenge to get kids interested in American history,” Cheney said.

“One of the important lessons we can learn is that freedom isn’t inevitable,” she said. “This realization should make the liberty we enjoy all the more important to us, all the more worth defending.”

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