Armed Services and Service Dogs were well represented at the Northumberland Public Library’s Story Hour on August 19.
The event, Combat Heroes, was part of the library’s Summer Reading Program, Every Hero Has a Story, that ends with the August 26 Story Hour. The August 19 Story Hour focused on America’s military heroes: the men and women in uniform. The audience included young children, ages 3 and up, and parents. They met a retired Marine and a Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer serving aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Vigorous.
The hour-long event began with Jan Bates, the library’s Coordinator of Children’s Programs, leading the audience as they recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Then came retired Marine Corps Sgt. Nancy Grissom Banes and her Service Dog, Rusty.
Wearing the same camouflage fatigue uniform that she wore during Boot Camp when she enlisted at age 29, Banes read the book “Nubs” to the children. The heartwarming – and true – story was about a stray dog, befriended by Marines in Iraq, who ran 70 miles to join them at their base. The dog became a mascot who was adopted by the Leathernecks and ultimately shipped to the United States, where he was later reunited with the Marine who first bonded with him. The audience greeted the tale and its happy ending with a burst of applause.
Then a Coast Guard family – mother Pauline Brann and children Jake and Chloe – talked about what it was like when their husband and father CW0-2 Jeffrey was away serving on his Coast Guard cutter, based in Portsmouth but also subject to deployment. They even held a simulated birthday party, complete with presents sent by their dad, before reading “My Hero” to the audience. The book contained letters from children writing about their mothers and fathers who were serving in the military.
At one point, the two children were asked what present they really wanted and they indicated it would be to see their father. That set the stage for the day’s big surprise when a smiling CWO-2 Brann walked into the room. He was home on an overnight visit before returning to duty.
After Brann’s joyous surprise reunion with his family came the final event. The children in the audience put together a collection of thank-you cards, including pasted-on cutouts, and presented them to CWO-2 Brann. He thanked them for the cards and said he would take them with him when he left in the morning to board the Vigorous and return to duty.
Photo Captions, from left to right, top row
Coast Guard CWO-2 Jeffrey Brann is greeted by his son Jake, wife Pauline and daughter Chloe as the library’s Jan Bates, right, looks on. Photo by Don Hirst
The library’s Jan Bates (left), CWO-2 Jeffrey Brann (center) and wife Pauline Brann (right) with children Chloe and Jake after the Story Hour. Photo by Don Hirst
Photo Captions, from left to right, middle row
Retired Marine Sgt. Nancy Grissom Banes reads “Nubs” to the children as her Service Dog, Rust, lies beneath her chair. Photo by Don Hirst
Retired Marine Sgt. Nancy Grissom Banes and her Service Dog, Rusty, with Jan Bates, the library’s Coordinator of Children’s Programs (right). Photo by Don Hirst
Photo Captions, from left to right, bottom row
Jake Brann, in miniature Coast Guard uniform, mother Pauline and daughter Chloe (right) read to the children. Photo by Don Hirst
CWO-2 Jeffrey Brann, left, watches the kids make thank-you cards. Photo by Don Hirst