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President throws pitch, greets children at Nationals game

President Barack Obama throws out the ceremonial first pitch to start the baseball season for the Washington Nationals April 5, 2010, at Nationals Ball Park in Washington, D.C. The Washington Nationals honored military children, inviting nine children whose parents are deployed to step onto the infield with the starting players to see the president throw out the first pitch. (DOD photo/Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class William Selby)

President Barack Obama throws out the ceremonial first pitch to start the baseball season for the Washington Nationals April 5, 2010, at Nationals Ball Park in Washington, D.C. The Washington Nationals honored military children, inviting nine children whose parents are deployed to step onto the infield with the starting players to see the president throw out the first pitch. (DOD photo/Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class William Selby)

Izaiah Robinson (center) whose father is deployed in Bahrain, was one of nine military children with a deployed parent invited to spend the opening day of baseball season April 5, 2010, at Washington Nationals Ball Park in Washington, D.C. The children took the field with the Nationals' nine starting players and saw President Barack Obama throw out the first pitch. (DOD photo/Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class William Selby)

Izaiah Robinson (center) whose father is deployed in Bahrain, was one of nine military children with a deployed parent invited to spend the opening day of baseball season April 5, 2010, at Washington Nationals Ball Park in Washington, D.C. The children took the field with the Nationals' nine starting players and saw President Barack Obama throw out the first pitch. (DOD photo/Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class William Selby)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- President Barack Obama threw the ceremonial opening pitch April 15 at the Washington Nationals' home opener here, which also featured a special event in honor of Month of the Military Child.

As President Obama left the field, he shook the hands of nine military children, chosen to join the Nationals' starting nine players on the field.

The Nationals gave the children and their parents tickets to the opener and brought them down to meet the players prior to the game in honor of Month of the Military Child, celebrated every April.

"To be out here was absolutely fantastic," said Maj. Richard Johnson, the father of Spencer Johnson, a military child honoree. "Anytime you're away from your family for six months or a year at a time, it puts a lot of strain on your family and especially your kids, so it was really nice to get to come out here to the game and really bond again."

"Being on the field was just amazing," Spencer added. "It's really good to be here with my Dad."

The Nationals said they were proud to give back to military children, who endure challenges such as long separations and multiple relocations.

"We're thrilled to take part in the Month of the Military Child," said Israel Negrón, the director of community relations for the Nationals. "It's just another way to say thank you to our men and women serving overseas to have their kids out here to have a good time. We can't make up for all the sacrifices and all the heartache that comes with having a loved one overseas, but we hope that while they're here they can have a good time."

According to statistics, 1.7 million American children and youth under age 18 have a parent serving in the military.

The Nationals lost their home opener 11-1 to the Philadelphia Phillies.

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