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Dr. Biden celebrates beginning of holiday season with Guard children 
Around The Guard 
 
Cheryl McKinley, center, wife of Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, talks to children of National Guard families invited to take part in a holiday tree trimming event at the official residence of the vice president, Dec. 1, 2010. During the event, children made cards for servicemembers and ornaments that will be on display at the residence throughout the holiday season. Standing with McKinley are Dr. Jill Biden, right, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, and Shelia Casey, left, wife of Army Gen. George Casey, the Army chief of staff. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy)
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy, National Guard Bureau 

WASHINGTON -- To kick off the holiday season, Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, welcomed children with parents serving in the National Guard as well as children from local schools to the official residence of the vice president to make holiday ornaments, decorate cookies and write letters to servicemembers overseas.

“One of the things I love about being the wife of the vice president is getting to welcome people to our home,” said Biden, adding that schoolchildren also visited last year. “This year, I wanted to welcome schoolchildren to come back and be our very first holiday guests.”

As Biden talked with the children present—many of whom had parents that have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan—she spoke of her own experiences as a mother of a deployed National Guard Soldier.

She showed the children a framed picture of her son, Army Capt. Beau Biden, who served in Iraq as a military lawyer with the Delaware Army National Guard’s 261st Signal Brigade.

“I know how hard it was for us as a family to have our son away,” said Biden. “So I know how it feels to have your mom or dad away.”

After caroling, Santa Claus made his entrance and posed for some pictures with Dr. Biden and the children.

"I found out yesterday that I'd get two treats: one, I get to go to the vice president's house; and two, I get to skip school," said Kate Roberts, daughter of Air National Guard Lt. Col. Andrew Roberts and his wife, Debbie. "This is really cool."

Ethan McDonald, son of Army National Guard Master Sgt. Marty McDonald and wife, Trish, said decorating cards for servicemembers was the highlight of the day for him. "I couldn't wish any more than your safe return," he wrote in his card.

Also joining in the event were Shelia Casey, wife of Gen. George Casey, the Army chief of staff, and Cheryl McKinley, wife of Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, the chief of the National Guard Bureau.

McKinley spoke to the children about the role the Guard plays both at home and while deployed, focusing not only on the federal warfighting mission, but also its response to natural disasters here at home.

She stressed the importance of what the childrens’ parents do in the Guard, but also thanked the children for the sacrifices that they have made.

“You’re giving your service too,” she said. “Sometimes, that takes a lot of courage.”

12/1/2010