First Lady, Dr. Biden Honor Military Spouses at White House
By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 6, 2011 First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, paid an emotional tribute to military spouses and their children at the White House today.
Obama fought back tears as she described the sacrifices of military spouses and their children who gathered in the White House’s East Room for a Mother’s Day tea: the frequent moves, the new schools, juggling the needs of young children and elderly parents, all while worrying about their spouse, or child, deployed to a war zone.
“We love you all,” the first lady said. “We really, really do. And that’s because over the last two years, as Jill said, we have been inspired by all of you in so many ways. Spending time with our men and women in uniform and their families has been the highlight of our work in these roles.
“We’ve been moved by your strength and your spirit, by your courage and, more importantly, by your sacrifice,” she added. “You have opened my eyes to what being part of a military family is truly all about. You’ve shown me what it takes for one parent to do the job of two – juggling the carpools and the soccer practices on top of many of you handling the work of a full-time job and all the rest that goes into running a household; caring for a loved one who’s been injured, or mourning a spouse or a child who never made it home.”
The first lady also paid tribute to military children. “You’ve shown us what it takes to be a military child, many of you – changing and leaving friends behind every few years, trying to keep up with homework and activities, and trying to lead the life of a normal kid while worrying about a parent or a sibling who is in harm’s way.”
Obama said “Americans everywhere stood in awe” of the special operations forces that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in a daring nighttime raid in Pakistan on May 1. “It was also a moment for all of us to remember that everyone who serves is able to do so because of the love and support of their families.”
It is because of the support and sacrifices of military families, Obama said, that she and Biden last month started the Joining Forces campaign to rally and connect Americans to supporting military families.
“You here today, and all the women we have met in our travels, are doing your part,” Biden said. “The government is working hard to do its part. And each American also has the ability to make a difference in the life of a military family. That’s what Joining Forces is all about.”
It was the heroic actions of special operations and intelligence forces in Pakistan on May 1 that reminded Americans “of the extraordinary courage that our military service members and their families demonstrate on a daily basis,” she said.
Biden told the audience she waited up late that night for her husband who spent the day at the White House with the administration’s national security team receiving real-time briefings of the unfolding special operations mission that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
Well after President Barack Obama’s 11 p.m. announcement on national television, Biden, sitting outside the vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory could hear crowds of people who had gathered outside the White House and were singing God Bless America.
“It was such a great feeling,” she said. “We and the entire nation are so proud of all of you.”
“You are the heroes,” Biden said. “From the moms who keep their families together while your loved ones are serving overseas, to the grandparents who step in with much needed support, to the siblings and children who are strong and brave while Mom or Dad is away."