News   Defense News

Defense Secretary Marks 2nd Anniversary of First Lady's 'Be Best' Initiative

May 8, 2020 , DOD News

Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper congratulated First Lady Melania Trump on the second anniversary of her "Be Best" initiative in a video message released today on social media.

Children hold tote bags up for the camera.
Be Best Kids
Students who attended the Family Online Safety Institute's Annual Conference pose with "Be Best" totes at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., Nov. 15, 2018
Photo By: Andrea Hanks, White House
VIRIN: 181115-O-ZZ999-070

"I'm proud to represent the nearly 3 million men and women in the Department of Defense who make our military the best fighting force in the world," Esper said. "We stand with you and encourage the children in our lives to 'Be Best' every day by adopting positive habits and being good to others."

Children play hopscotch.
Hopscotch Time
Children play hopscotch during a celebration of the first anniversary of First Lady Melania Trump’s “Be Best” initiative, in the Kennedy Garden at the White House, May 7, 2019.
Photo By: Andrea Hanks, White House
VIRIN: 190507-O-ZZ999-070


"Be Best" is aimed at encouraging children to focus on social, emotional and physical health, according to the White House website.

Trump has traveled nationally and internationally to highlight the program's three pillars — well-being, online safety, and opioid abuse — as well as the people and programs dedicated to helping children learn, work through and overcome these issues, according to a statement released this week by her office.

A girl holds a soccer ball.
Soccer Kids
A student at the Chipala Primary School in Lilongwe, Malawi, holds a soccer ball that First Lady Melania Trump donated during a visit as part of her “Be Best” campaign, Oct. 4, 2018.
Photo By: Andrea Hanks, White House
VIRIN: 181004-O-ZZ999-070


"It is always inspiring to see the life-changing work happening every day within our communities and around the world," she said. "Now more than ever, we must continue to work together and champion these causes in order to strengthen and protect our children and provide them with a safe and more secure future."

A woman, surrounded by children, claps from a balcony.
Opening Bell
First Lady Melania Trump rings the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange in celebration of the well-being of children, a pillar of her “Be Best” campaign, Sept. 23, 2019.
Photo By: Andrea Hanks, White House
VIRIN: 190923-O-ZZ999-070


Though COVID-19 has curtailed the celebrations for the campaign's second anniversary — which coincides with Teacher Appreciation Week —  the first lady conducted a surprise video teleconference this week with a first grade teacher and her students from Michigan.

'Be Best' Highlights

  • The first lady has visited more than 20 classrooms and met with nearly 4,000 students from around the world.
  • She has toured nearly 20 hospitals, both domestically and internationally, highlighting their innovative programs and thanking the medical staff for their devotion to their patients.
  • Nearly every government agency has a "Be Best" ambassador who focuses on resources and opportunities available within their agency and uses them to make a difference in the lives of children.
  • The first lady invited thousands of children to the White House over the past two years to participate in Be Best activities.
  • The first lady has participated in numerous summits, roundtables and conferences, meeting with a diverse group of stakeholders, including governors, legislators and their spouses, to highlight the mission and values of "Be Best."
  • She received the annual "Woman of Distinction" award from Palm Beach Atlantic University in February in recognition of her work through the "Be Best" initiative.