Mother's Day Tea at the White House

Uploaded by whitehouse on 06.05.2011

Mrs. Shinseki: Good afternoon, everyone.
It is indeed a tremendous privilege and pleasure to be
here at the White House.
Please allow me to acknowledge and thank two wonderful mothers
-- the ever-gracious First Lady, Michelle Obama,
and Dr. Jill Biden for their warmth and hospitality --
-- in hosting this Mother's Day tea in this very special home.
If we close our eyes and think of our own mothers,
what comes to mind are the personal memories we hold dear;
the legacy of women we knew -- or never knew --
in our families that are woven firmly within us and passed on
through generations.
In the words of a military child, and I quote,
"My military mom is strong and independent.
She cares and comforts us.
She raised us with enough love to fill the world.
I am so incredibly proud of her."
So in spite of the unique and special challenges they bear,
military moms are so often the glue that holds some of our
nation's most generous families together.
As spouses, they often parent alone when their soldier,
sailor, airman, Marine, or Coast Guardsman is gone for long
periods of time.
Or, as is increasingly the case, they serve our great nation in
uniform themselves.
Among the military families of the active duty, National Guard,
and reserves, the rich, proud military culture and traditions
are lived each day and rest in their hearts long after the
uniform is shed.
Today, we are fortunate to have with us a splendid and diverse
representation of mothers, daughters, grandmothers,
military spouses, for whom today is your day; military moms,
Gold Star moms, Gold Star spouses,
for whom the sacrifices have been most dear.
Women veterans -- pioneers in ground-breaking work for
homeless military women veterans;
volunteers who share their giving spirit through the many
organizations that help smooth the way for military families.
This is an intergenerational gathering of mothers who
continue to inspire and nurture.
So welcome to you all -- I am so happy to be here with you,
and to have the opportunity to introduce a truly remarkable
woman, mother, and grandmother.
Dr. Biden is an extraordinarily talented woman of many,
many diverse accomplishments.
She understands the importance of military moms so very well
because she is one, experiencing firsthand the challenges faced
by military families.
She is an exceptional educator who earned a doctorate
in education.
Additionally, while working to raise her family,
she earned two master's degrees and is a full-time professor.
She has proven herself again and again as one of the very
strongest advocates and supporters of America's military
families across the country and throughout the world.
One of her most significant recent achievements was her
leadership -- along with the First Lady --
in creating and launching the Joining Forces campaign,
which is a comprehensive national initiative to mobilize
all sectors of American society to strengthen the support of our
service members, our veterans, and their families by reaching
out with gestures of kindness and providing opportunities they
so richly deserve.
I am so proud and grateful to have joined forces with her in
this valuable and important work.
She fully shares the President's, her husband's,
and the First Lady's unwavering commitment to serve those who
serve and sacrifice.
She has seen her own son off to war,
endured the long wait for his return,
and felt the special pride of knowing that the burden of
wartime service was not left to other families.
It is my great privilege to introduce to you Dr. Jill Biden.
Dr. Biden: Thank you, Patty, for that warm introduction and for all you do
for military families, and especially the children.
I always love seeing you, and I'm so delighted to see you
here today.
Thank you.
Good afternoon, everyone.
Audience: Good afternoon.
Dr. Biden: It's so nice to see so many friends here.
I'm Jill Biden, and I'm a proud military mom and grandmom.
And it's a special honor to welcome you all to the White
House today.
This has been quite a week, hasn't it?
Yesterday I joined my husband at the Pentagon to commemorate the
victims of the attacks on 9/11.
None of us will ever forget that day.
But the heroic actions in Pakistan earlier this week
reminded all Americans of the extraordinary courage that our
military service members and their families demonstrate on a
daily basis.
On Sunday night, as I was -- after the President made his
announcement, I was -- it was late,
and I was outside waiting for my husband.
I had on my bathrobe, and I was sitting on the steps of our
residence, and I could hear in the distance --
because there were so many people that were outside --
and I could hear them at the gates that opened to our
driveway, and there were people there singing,
"God Bless America."
And it really just renewed what we all know -- just really --
it just brought this country together.
And I think it was such a great feeling.
We and the entire nation are so proud of all of you.
Michelle and I are thrilled to have you here at the White House
today as we express the thanks of our entire nation for
those who serve.
You are all heroes -- 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.
Just last month I attended a deployment ceremony where I met
some folks I now call, "The Grandparents."
Both parents of three children under the age of 10 were
deploying, and these grandmothers decided to circle
the wagons and take care of those children.
What a relief it is for those parents to know that their
children are being taken care of by their grandparents,
and what a gift to the children to be surrounded by love while
both of their parents are deployed.
Last summer, I traveled to Iraq with my husband, Joe,
to visit our troops during the Fourth of July.
I had lunch with several female soldiers,
many of whom were mothers.
These women were managing all the challenges of parenting --
arranging health care, childcare, and education --
thousands and thousands of miles away from their homes
and loved ones.
One woman across the table fought back tears as she told me
that she was missing out on taking her youngest daughter
to college.
I was at a loss for words.
All I could do at that moment was just reach across that table
and grab her hand.
Michelle and I have both been struck by these women fiercely
proud to serve their country and never complaining,
but still struggling with some of the everyday challenges we
all face in managing a home and a family.
You here today, and all the women we have met in our
travels, are doing your part.
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 our Joining Forces initiative is all about.
And now, it's my honor and privilege to introduce a woman
who is doing her part as a strong leader and a constant
advocate for our service members, veterans,
and military families.
I have had the privilege of traveling with our First Lady to
meet military families across this country,
and I've seen firsthand how committed she is to doing
everything she can to support them.
I feel so fortunate to have her as a partner in this effort and
to have her as my dear friend -- our First Lady, Michelle Obama.
Mrs. Obama: Thank you, everyone.
Thank you.
Thank you all so much.
Please rest, enjoy the tea.
Welcome to the White House.
Isn't this great?
It's fabulous.
And everyone looks amazing.
It's like a room full of bursting flowers.
And we have our little ladies -- you guys have your pinkies up,
everyone's pinkies up?
Or something like that.
We're delighted to have you here.
Let me start by recognizing my partner in so much --
and I didn't know that this woman would be not just a
partner but a friend, a Blue Star mom herself who has been
sending out the call, educating this country long before she
stepped into this role, focusing the nation on the sacrifices of
the families -- Dr. Jill Biden.
Let's give her a round of applause.
And Patty.
Patty has been a tremendous advisor to Jill and I throughout
this entire process, and she is amazing and knowledgeable,
and she is going to be a critical component of
Joining Forces.
And we are so proud of her and her service.
Let's give Patty a hand.
And finally, I want to thank all of you.
Thank you.
I know it's pretty exciting to be having tea at the White House
in the East Room.
But believe it or not, we are just as excited,
and probably more excited, to have you all here.
I mean, it is really -- we love you all.
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.
And as you have opened up your arms and your hearts to me --
which you have so fully, and I feel it and I know it.
I'm not a Blue Star mom or a Gold Star mom,
but you all have scooped me up in ways that I wouldn't
have imagined.
You've also 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.
And I know that there are people in the room today who feel a
little sad because this Mother's Day is a little less than
what you'd hope.
And all we can do is hug you and tell you that we are thinking
and praying and working for you all, and we are proud of you.
And some of you are, as Jill said,
grandparents caring for a grandchild.
And others of you have served in uniform yourselves.
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.
And as Jill reminded us just this past week,
as Americans everywhere stood in awe at the bravery of the
soldiers who carried out that daring operation in Pakistan,
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.
And what you do is not easy.
I won't even say it's not always easy --
I don't think it's ever easy.
I know that every day you deal with things that most of us can
only imagine.
But I also know that along with incredible challenges come
incredible strength.
That's something else that I know from you all.
Roseanna Yamashita and her daughter Tyler are some of you
who know what I'm talking about.
With a father serving in the army,
Tyler is only a junior in high school,
but she's already attended 10 schools on three continents.
And next year, the Yamashitas are moving to Germany.
But Tyler and Roseanna never complain -- as none of you do.
They know it's part of serving their country.
And then there's Helen Norberg and her daughter Julia.
They know a thing or two about what I'm talking about.
When Julia had to deploy to Iraq,
Helen was there every day to help take care of their
three-year-old grandson Isaiah.
She enrolled him in gymnastics, probably just to
settle him down.
She took him to his first dentist appointment.
And since the only time Julia and Isaiah could speak was
during the day, Helen would often leave work,
drive to Isaiah's school with her cell phone,
just so he could hear his mom's voice.
And then, last year as Julia's deployment was coming to an end,
Helen's house was destroyed by a tornado.
Helen jumped on top of Isaiah to protect him.
She broke two vertebrae in her back.
When the storm died down, Isaiah had nothing but a small scratch
on his arm.
And as Julia said, she has been the best grandmother and mother
any soldier could ask for.
And there are stories like this at every table,
in every one of your households, in every one of your lives.
I know that.
These are only examples of what you live every day.
So make no mistake about it, even if you're not the ones
wearing the uniform, every single one of you is serving
our country.
And every single one of you deserves our support --
not just with words, but with deeds.
Now, words are good.
They help.
Deeds are better.
Real concrete actions that make a difference for you at your
workplaces, in your schools, and in your communities.
And that's why last month, Jill and I --
with Patty's help and so many others --
we started Joining Forces, a nationwide campaign to rally
this country to recognize, honor,
and support our military families.
We're joining forces across this country,
and we're calling on all Americans to ask themselves just
one simple question: How can I give back to these families who
have given me so much?
We're joining forces across the federal government,
building on over 50 commitments that departments and agencies
have made for how they can better serve military families.
We're going to be joining forces with cities and states,
encouraging them to adopt policies that will help you all.
We're joining forces with organizations like the national
PTA and the Military Child Education Coalition,
to improve school outreach to military kids.
We're joining forces with businesses and nonprofits,
getting commitments from companies like Walmart and Sears
to help military spouses find and keep jobs.
And we're joining forces with families and communities.
We're urging people to do whatever they can as neighbors,
colleagues, and classmates to lend a hand to
military families.
We believe that this is what you deserve from us,
because showing our gratitude to those who serve our nation
whether it's on the battlefield or at home,
is something that every single American can do.
And it's something that every single American should do.
So, to everyone here, I just want to say thank you.
This is a very small way to say thank you.
Thank you for your strength, your commitment.
Thank you for setting an example for the rest of us.
It has been such a pleasure getting to meet all of you.
So let's stop crying -- because I'm about to cry again.
Let's just stop now.
And remember, it is Mother's Day.
So today is a non-"Let's Move!" day.
Eat all the cookies you want.
And enjoy this weekend.
Continue to take care of each other.
We love you.
We are proud of you.
And we will keep working.
So thank you all.
Take care.