Sesame Street/USO shows bring joy to military families

Children rush to the stage at the end of the Sesame Street/USO show Aug. 12 at the Sand Hill Recreation Center. (Photo by Danielle Davis)

Children rush to the stage at the end of the Sesame Street/USO show Aug. 12 at the Sand Hill Recreation Center. (Photo by Danielle Davis)

By Danielle Davis, Bayonet & Saber /

Dozens of families gathered in the Sand Hill Recreation Center Aug. 12 for the first of four Sesame Street/United Service Organizations Experience for Military Families shows on Fort Benning.

“This is phase 10 of our tour. We’re doing the ‘Moving’ shows on the first day. The kids will meet Katie, the military child, during that show. What’s special about Katie is that she’s a character created specifically for this show. You only see her during the USO tour,” said Nicole McClendon, the Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families tour manager.

“The second day we’re debuting our stateside show here called ‘Katie’s family transitions to civilian life.’ Her dad’s not going to be in the military anymore, which brings another series of big changes for her,” McClendon added.

She hopes that the families have fun while attending the events.

“It’s really important to us that our youngest military family members understand that we understand this is a challenge for them. We want to let them know that we care about them and we’re here for them. It’s our way of saying thank you to the parents as well. We believe that one family member serves, everybody serves,” McClendon said.

“It really is a great opportunity to make a difference in the lives of military children. I love working with kids and having the chance to maybe change someone’s life,” added Pvt. Chris Carney, C Company, 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry Regiment, who volunteered at the event.

Melanie Frye, a Fort Benning resident, heard about the Sesame Street/USO Experience via an email from the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

“My kids really wanted to see the Sesame Street characters. My son wants to see Elmo specifically. I thought it would be good idea to bring them because we’ll move constantly during their lifetimes and this is a way to help them understand that,” Frye said.

“I read about it on the MWR website,” said Saskia Merus, who brought her two young children.

Although the Truesdales have been a part of the Fort Benning community for four years, this was the first time Jasmine Truesdale took her children to see the Sesame Street/USO performance.

“We live off post, so coming on isn’t something we normally do. We have three young children, and I thought this would help them understand the changes that will happen in their lives,” said Truesdale.

“Tawanna Brown from DFMWR told us about this event. Everyone thought it would be a good thing for the kids to experience so that they can learn how to adapt to change,” said Kimberly Carey, a program assistant at Fort Benning’s School Age Center.

“I think their favorite was during the beginning when everyone was up and dancing with Elmo,” she added.

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