U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta Joins Hundreds of Volunteers to Build a Playground in One Day as Part of 9/11 Day of Service & Remembrance

FORT MEADE, MD (September 10, 2011) — 

Children of military families at Ft. Meade received a new playground today thanks to the effort of hundreds of volunteers from Northrop Grumman, the Fort Meade Community Covenant Council and non-profit KaBOOM!. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta joined the effort, which was part of the 9/11 Day of Service & Remembrance.

“This is really quite a thrill to have the chance to come out and see so many volunteers helping on this playground,” said U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, addressing the crowd. “We have had a generation of men and women in uniform that put their lives on the line and have committed themselves to protecting this country. In addition to them and their families, people like all of you, by your very presence here today, are giving your service to make sure that this country always remains strong.”

The child-designed playground was fully assembled from scratch in less than eight hours with the help of more than 300 volunteers on Saturday, Sept. 10 at Fort Meade’s Burba Park. Volunteers gathered for a kickoff ceremony at 8:30 a.m. and completed the playground project in time for a closing ceremony at 2:30 p.m.

The project also involved Operation Honor Cards, an initiative from Blue Star Families in which volunteers donate their hours of service to honor military families, veterans and service members.

Northrop Grumman will join a coalition of national partners in this 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance to commemorate widespread observance and tribute to victims, survivors and public servants affected by the tragedy.

“This new playground will provide thousands of children of military families at Fort Meade with a safe place to play,” said Sandra Evers-Manly, Northrop Grumman vice president of Corporate Responsibility and president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation. “The importance of strong communities is felt very deeply as we reflect on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and this day of service and remembrance. We are proud to pay tribute to those affected by the tragic events of that day, and to recognize and honor the everyday heroes who serve our country.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, play is important to healthy brain development and allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive and emotional strength.

"This was a great opportunity for the many organizations in our community who wanted to show their support for the personnel and families of Fort George G. Meade to come together and work as a team,” said Claire Louder, spokesperson for the Fort Meade Community Covenant Council. “I've seen up close the impact multiple deployments can have on even strong military families, and being able to dedicate this playground to the children who have shared their parents with our country acknowledges their sacrifice."

During the course of the day, volunteers mixed and moved more than 20,000 pounds of concrete and moved 58,320 square feet of safety surfacing by hand – enough to cover more than 12 NBA-sized basketball courts. The new 3,500 square-foot playground includes equipment for children of all ages and abilities, including Adventure Tubes, a Rockblocks climbing wall and a Rumble Seat Slide.

“For military members and their families, every day is a day of national service,” said Fort Meade Garrison Commander, Colonel Edward C. Rothstein. “It is appropriate and admirable that all of these volunteers came together to recognize our service and sacrifice by building this playground. It will serve as a constant reminder of our strong Fort Meade identity that exists inside and outside the fence line. We are a unified Fort Meade community bound by selfless service and helping others.”

Planning for the playground began at a Design Day event held in July when local children and community leaders met with organizers from Northrop Grumman, the Fort Meade Community Covenant Council and KaBOOM! to design their dream playground. The children's drawings were then used to create the final playground design.

KaBOOM! is a national non-profit organization dedicated to saving play. For 15 years, KaBOOM! has fought the Play Deficit, and this project is one of more than 150 playground builds KaBOOM! will lead across the country this year.

“KaBOOM! was honored to assist in building a new playground that will benefit thousands of children from military families for years to come on this day of remembrance,” said KaBOOM! Founder and CEO Darell Hammond. “Every child deserves to have a great place to play and we made that possible for children at Fort Meade, while bringing KaBOOM! one step closer to our vision of a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.”


Mary L. Doyle, Chief Media Relations, Fort George G. Meade, 301-677-5592 or mary.l.doyle14.civ
Margaret Mitchell-Jones, Northrop Grumman, 703-280-2739,


About Ft. Meade Community Covenant Council
The Fort Meade Community Covenant Council is a cross section of community and government organizations with an interest in addressing the needs, issues and concerns of service members, veterans, civilians and their families in the Fort Meade region. When not building playgrounds, each organization committed to the Fort Meade Community Covenant council conducts individual outreach programs in support of personnel and families of Fort Meade. In under four weeks, the Fort Meade Community Covenant Council raised more than $14,000 in cash donations to fund the construction of the playground project, and more than $10,000 in food donations to feed the volunteers on the day of the build.

Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide. Please visit for more information.

About KaBOOM!
KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to giving all kids – especially those living in poverty – the childhood they deserve through great, safe places to play. KaBOOM! inspires communities to make play the easy choice and works to drive the national discussion about the importance of PLAYces. KaBOOM! has collaborated with partners to build or improve more than 17,000 playspaces, engage over 1.5 million volunteers and serve nearly 10 million kids. To learn why play matters for all kids, visit and join the conversation at,, and #playmatters #PLAYceforKids