First Lady Michelle Obama invited service members, veterans, wounded warriors and their families to be the first to see this year’s White House holiday decorations, centering around the theme, “A Children’s Winter Wonderland,” today.
Hosting military families for the first peek at the White House holiday decor has become a tradition for Obama. She told the audience in the East Room that an estimated 65,000 members of the public will tour the mansion during the holiday season.
“Your presence here today is a powerful reminder for … what this season is really all about,” she said. “We get caught up in the holiday rush … but ultimately, that’s not what this season is about. It’s really about serving others. It’s about giving more than we receive. And it’s about showing those we love how much they mean to us.”
Informing the Nation of Military Sacrifices
Throughout the White House, tributes to U.S. military men and women are evident.
The holidays provide the White House a chance to show what the nation is grateful for during the holidays, Obama said, adding, “And that’s all of you, the military families who serve our nation proudly and give us all so much. We know that too often, your stories of courage and strength often get lost in the shuffle. And there are a lot of people who don’t realize what you all go through.”
Much of the nation isn’t aware of how military spouses frequently move their families, often at the expense of their careers, she said.
“They don’t know about your kids and all that you have to go through. They don’t know that oftentimes military kids have to start at a new school every couple of years, which means a tough transition for some, although they do it so bravely,” Obama said.
Military Members Step up to Challenges
Key to the military lifestyle -- which Obama says “keeps me going” -- is the families’ commitment to volunteering, she noted.
“So many of you are the ones who are doing all the volunteering, more so than many average Americans. You’re the ones who are cooking the meals for your neighbors and taking over the carpool … organizing food drives and sending care packages … stepping up whenever your families and friends need you.”
She pointed out that this year’s official White House tree from Leighton, Pennsylvania, standing in the Blue Room at 18 feet tall and measuring 12 feet wide, is decorated in honor of the U.S. military’s men and women.
“America the Brave” is the tree’s theme.
“It’s beautiful, because it has patriotic ornaments and ribbons that read ‘America the Brave,’” she said, “as well as some wonderful cards created by children across the country to thank all of you for your service to our country.”
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)