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First Lady Hosts Military Mother's Day Tea at White House

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 9, 2013 – First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, hosted 170 military mothers and children at the White House today for a formal Mother’s Day tea.

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First Lady Michelle Obama, center, Dr. Jill Biden, right, and Britain’s Prince Harry applaud military families, May 9, 2013, in the East Room of the White House at the Joining Forces Mother’s Day Tea. DOD photo by Terri Moon Cronk.
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The event was part of the Joining Forces campaign, which provides support and opportunities for military families. It brought military moms, their mothers and kids from around the country to the White House, Obama said.

The guest list also included Lilibet Hagel, wife of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel; Patty Shinseki, wife of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki;the first lady’smother, Marian Robinson; and the military spouses of the year from each of the services, the National Guard and the Coast Guard. In addition, Britain’s Prince Harry also made a surprise visit.

“Today we have some of the most extraordinary moms here with us -- active-duty troops and military spouses from all across the country,” Obama said.

“You help our country soar. When somebody needs you – your family, community or your country -- … you answer the call every time,” she said.

Following the first lady’s remarks, while mothers remained in the East Room drinking tea made from chamomile grown in the White House garden, the children went to the State Dining Room where they made cards and crafts for Mother’s Day.

The 50 children, ranging in age from 6 to 13 years, made their gifts with help from the first lady, Biden, Prince Harry, military personnel and White House staff, among others.

When the youths re-entered the East Room bearing their gifts, Prince Harry emerged with them, bringing the crowd to cheers and applause.

Following two deployments to Afghanistan, Prince Harry has since “focused on honoring the sacrifices and service of veterans and military families,” especially as the war there is drawing down, Obama said.

“[Prince Harry] has spent a lot of time supporting wounded warriors and families of the fallen,” she said. The prince will also attend the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo., where injured service members will compete in a variety of sports at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and Air Force Academy as part of his U.S. trip.

“When he heard about this tea and all of you, he wanted to be here to personally thank you for your service,” Obama said.

In support of service members, their families and veterans, Obama told the audience that the Joining Forces initiative is a “forever proposition” that will continue with succeeding presidents. Obama and Biden established Joining Forces in June 2011 to mobilize backing from every sector of society to help these individuals find work and other resources.

“I hope you know how much your country appreciates you,” the first lady told the audience. “People across America have your backs … from everyone here at the White House and the Department of Defense … to doctors, college professors, community and faith leaders. It’s because of you and what you’ve given this country.”

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Joining Forces

Click photo for screen-resolution imageThe White House invited 170 mothers and children to the Joining Forces Mother’s Day Tea, May 9. Harp music played softly as the group dined in the East Room on tea grown from chamomile in the White House garden, cookies and bite-sized sandwiches. Military personnel from all the services assisted with the tea. DOD photo by Terri Moon Cronk.  
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