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Near Record Crowds Honor America's Sons & Daughters at National Cryptologic Museum

The U.S. Air Force Medical Team from Ft. Meade perform first aid for a "battle casualty."
The rain kept falling. Day after day it seemed no breaks were in sight. Mother Nature would not relent. Some suggested canceling the National Cryptologic Museum's (NCM) Armed Forces & National Police Celebration on May 19. But the NCM refused. Instead, planners revised the original plan so the celebration could be held. America's Sons and Daughters would not be forgotten.

Result? Nearly 1,500 people and 30 military, police, and civilian organizations from NSA, Ft. Meade, and the local community snubbed Mother Nature and came to the NCM on May 19 to honor our men and women of the Armed Forces and police.

Original plans for this year's event included two dozen vehicles from active and reserve military units and police organizations, and a rescue boat and helicopter from the Maryland State Police. Also on the agenda was a long-awaited performance by the U.S. Marine Silent Drill Platoon, which was secured by the Marine Cryptologic Support Battalion. The U.S. Army Field Band's Ambassadors Jazztet was also tuned up and ready for a return performance. In fact, the 2018 celebration would have extended into the larger parking lot behind the museum building. But the rain would not have it.

Determined to hold the celebration for the community and the honorees, the activities and many of the static displays were brought under the museum's canopies and inside the building. The show would go on.

The event included 30 activities enjoyed by nearly 1,500 people, including NSA's new director, Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, joined by his wife, Susan, and Senior Enlisted Advisor Master Gunnery Sgt. Scott Stalker. The general visited each table to learn about the activity and see what the children were doing. Kids learned how to tie nautical knots from U.S. Navy Sailors. They climbed into an Army National Guard bio-hazard vehicle and into a Maryland State Police rescue boat. Visitors also learned what an Airman does in the Air Force 70th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing and how they contribute to the fight for freedom.

That wasn't all. Kids trained with a baton by striking an NSA Police Training Unit policeman who was wearing protective equipment worn for baton training. Then they tried sobriety goggles to experience and better understand the negative effects of driving under the influence. Other activities included the NSA Police K9 demonstrations, Ft. Meade Police, the 241st Military Police and 2nd Military Working Dog Detachment from Ft. Meade, World War II reenactors from the 4th Infantry Signal Platoon, U.S. Naval Sea Cadets performing STEM activities, a Ham Radio communications station, a U.S. Air Force Medical Team performing "first aid" on kids, NSA's K-12 STEM Outreach teaching kids how to solve puzzles and challenges, and the U.S. Army Field Band's Ambassadors Jazztet performing two sets in the museum's Magic Room.

Airmen with the U.S. Air Force 70th Intelligence, Reconnaissance, & Surveillance Wing educated visitors about the skills they bring to the fight for freedom.
If that wasn't enough, NSA's SHAPE staff challenged kids to do push-ups and jumping jacks for prizes. The Tower Federal Credit Union, Government Employees' Benefits Association, Uniformed Services Automobile Association, and Military Cyber Professionals Association, organizations that provide services to members of the military, their families, and federal employees, also offered games and challenges for various prizes. The Baltimore County-Dundalk Vet Center of Veterans Affairs also came to educate veterans about benefits available to them.

One of the most popular challenges for children was the "Making the Rank" hunt. To help children and their parents better understand military ranks, young "hunters" looked for military rank insignia displayed at various displays and exhibits and wrote the correct answers on an answer sheet. Once they had all the correct answers, they brought the sheet to the Freedom Optimist Club running the Snow Cone station, where they received a free snow cone, courtesy of the National Cryptologic Museum Foundation.

And what would a celebration be without food and drink? The Marine Cryptologic Support Battalion overcame the rain crisis and brought everything but the grill inside, serving sandwiches, snacks, and drinks for donations.

The NCM's goal for holding the Armed Forces & National Police Celebration is to strengthen the bond between members of our Armed Services and police departments with the local community. With less than one percent of American citizens having military experience, this annual event is an opportunity for members of the community to meet our men and women in uniform and learn who they are, people just like them who face the same life challenges as anyone else. But in addition, they miss birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and other special days with their families and loved ones so they can keep our borders, communities, and way of life safe from harm. They are husbands and fathers, wives and mothers, brothers, and sisters. They are "America's Sons and Daughters."

See the 2018 Armed Forces & National Police Celebration photo album.