MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Children dressed in formal attire filled Club Iwakuni’s ballroom, laughing, talking and eating during the Mini-Marine Corps Ball here Oct. 26, 2012.
This is the second year this event took place.
Children ages 5 to 12 enjoyed an abbreviated ceremony like their parents, as Marines, see at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball.
Young boys and girls spent the first hour of their evening socializing, followed by the invocation given by Navy Lt. T. L. Skelton, station chaplain.
Matthew C. Perry High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps presented the colors.
Children stood, said “The Pledge of Allegiance” and remained standing as the colors retired.
After the marching of the colors, participants learned about traditions of the Marine Corps Birthday Ball, to include the cake-cutting ceremony and importance of celebrating heritage.
True to their boisterous nature, shortly after gaining their newfound knowledge, boys and girls began to chant “We want cake!”
Jeffrey Fleming, Mini-Marine Corps Ball master of ceremonies, introduced the guest speaker.
Sgt. Maj. Gerard J. Calvin, Mini-Marine Corps Ball guest speaker and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12 sergeant major, captured the children’s attention by singing a cadence, helped by Marines in dress blues, scattered throughout the room.
“I hope the kids had a great time,” said Calvin. “They got into it, and I figured it would be easy for them to understand if I put it into a song.”
Following suit, the participants clapped and shouted,“Marine Corps” as Calvin sang.
“It was a blast,” said Calvin. “I was a little apprehensive. I wondered,‘What do you say to a bunch of 5 to 12 year olds? What do you say to keep their attention?’”
Calvin seemed to have no trouble doing that as he finished with a few words of encouragement.
The night ended with more photographs and cake, as well as Calvin leading children in line dancing.
“I feel happy about tonight,” said Jacob Limb, 8, Mini- Marine Corps Ball participant. “I liked it a lot. I thought it was a great experience. I liked learning about the facts about how the Marine Corps started.”
The children, who were not used to spending their nights in dress clothing, did not seem to mind.
“Things are not as fancy at my house as they are here,” said Limb. “There are a lot more people and I really liked the ceremony.”
The young ball participants started and finished their night with smiles on their faces.