State Dinner Press Preview

Uploaded by whitehouse on 07.06.2011

First Lady Michelle Obama: Good afternoon and welcome to the White House.
You know, this is a special day.
We're hosting another state visit.
And one of the things that we really love to do when we have
state visits is to invite you guys in so that you have a
better sense of what happens in this place,
because we always give the press a preview, right?
They want to know what we're serving and what the tables
are going to look like.
And these are -- this is what the tables are going to look
like, so everybody take a look.
But we also like to use it as an opportunity to educate you guys
and give you a chance to be in on what's going to happen
tonight, right?
You guys live in Washington.
You live in the Washington, D.C. area.
People -- you read about these state visits.
But how often is it that you get a chance to get a little piece
of it, right?
So that's why all of the staff, everyone that works on the state
dinners -- this is really one of the best parts of the dinner,
is inviting you guys in and letting you get a little peek.
But let me just tell you about this visit.
The President is hosting the leader of Germany,
Chancellor Merkel, and this is an official visit,
so it's something a little bit different from when a world
leader just comes by and comes by the Oval Office.
I mean, this is when we roll out the red carpet because we have a
special relationship with the visiting country.
And tonight is special because the President and I,
in addition to hosting the Chancellor and her husband --
the President is going to give the Chancellor the Medal of
Freedom, which is the higher honor that any civilian can
receive from the President of the United States.
So that's pretty cool.
She's really excited about that.
And very few people from outside of our country have ever
received this honor.
Usually it's for people here in this country.
But that's a testament to Chancellor Merkel's
extraordinary life, and it's one of great service not just to her
country but to the rest of the world.
She grew up under Communist rule in East Germany,
back when Berlin was divided by the wall.
And when the wall came down and her country reunited,
she dedicated herself to public service.
And she has been a leader in Germany's democracy more than
ten decades, so her career spans, well,
time longer than most of you have been alive.
And six years ago, she became the first East German and the
first woman to serve as Germany's Chancellor.
And her life reminds us of the opportunity that women have to
lead our governments and to strengthen our world.
I mean, you look at someone as powerful and influential and as
dedicated as Chancellor Merkel, and you're reminded that women
are amazing and they play a critical role in strengthening
ties around the world.
And it's not just women like Chancellor Merkel
in other countries.
We have some of our own powerhouses right here in
the United States, people like Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton as well as United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice.
They are working very hard in this country to foster ties with
governments all around the world.
So I want you all to know that no matter where you come from,
or what you look like, or how much money your family may have,
you can have a real impact on the world.
And that's a message that we try to tell young people all
across the world.
And I'm going to be traveling to Africa soon,
spending time in South Africa and Botswana,
working with young leaders and women leaders and delivering
some of the same messages.
And we're going to figure out ways for young girls like you
all to be a part of that trip, as well.
But for now it's time for me to turn it over to our special
guest, Brooke Anderson, who's the Chief of Staff for the
National Security Staff here at the White House.
And Brooke is going to give you a few more of the details about
the official visit.
She is a great role model for all that young women can be,
and a reminder of what you can do when you work
hard at anything.
And she loves doing this stuff, as well.
We're always grateful to have her on board.
So I'm going to turn it over to Brooke.
And then we'll get to try a little dessert and talk a little
bit more amongst ourselves after these guys leave, okay?
So with that, I'll turn it over to Brooke -- and come
and sit down.
I'm sitting over here.
Brooke, come on.
Thank you so much.
Ambassador Brooke Anderson: Okay. I realize I'm between you and your desserts so I
will keep it short!
First, good afternoon and welcome to the White House.
It was the First Lady who came up with the idea of giving
students like you the opportunity to be part of global
events that take place right here in your own community.
So, please, let's give another round of applause
for the First Lady.
First, it's wonderful to have you all here.
The National Security staff is part of the White House and it
supports the President, the First Lady, the Vice President,
on the whole range of security and foreign policy issues,
like today's visit of Chancellor Merkel.
On days like this, especially with State Dinners,
there's obviously a lot of attention on what happens in
front of the cameras: How the two leaders interact with one
another; who's coming to dinner; what their wearing.
Yeah, there's a lot of the attention to what
they're wearing.
But there's a lot more that happens during a visit like this
so I thought I would give you a brief glimpse into some of the
work behind the scenes and why this visit means so much to our
two countries.
The United States and Germany have a strong
and deep relationship.
Nearly one quarter of Americans, maybe even some of your
families, trace their ancestry to Germany.
Every year countless students from the United States in high
school and college take the opportunity to live and study
in Germany, as do many German students here.
Many traditions and institutions that we think of as American,
kindergarten, graduate degrees, even Christmas trees,
have German origins.
And German Americans, like Levi Strauss,
have given us things that we can all be grateful for
like Levi's jeans.
For more than six decades our two countries have
been strong allies.
It started in the aftermath of World War II.
It developed throughout the cold war.
And it grew stronger following the reunification of Germany.
Today the United States and Germany are allies in
confronting challenges around the world.
We work very closely with Germany.
This is President Obama's tenth meeting with Chancellor Merkel.
But today is special.
This is the first official visit and State Dinner for a European
leader during his Presidency.
Germany and Chancellor Merkel are being recognized with this
honor for a simple reason: Germany is one of our closest
allies; and Chancellor Merkel is one of the President's
closest partners on the world stage.
On the National Security Staff, we have been working on this
visit for a long, long time.
The folks in our Europe office have been planning every detail
working closely with their German counterparts to prepare
issues for discussion.
Our team hasn't slept very much.
They do all this work because these official visits and State
Dinners aren't just all pomp and circumstance.
They're an opportunity to get important business done.
And we want to make the most of the time that President Obama
and Chancellor Merkel have together.
The President and the Chancellor consult with each other on
virtually every issue that our two countries
face around the world.
And the issues that they're addressing today,
the global economy, the demands for democracy in the Middle East
and North Africa, preventing the spread of nuclear weapons,
these are issues that are going to shape our world and your
lives for decades to come.
And so it's very appropriate that you're part of this day.
You're the generation that's going to carry on this work.
But today is also special for another reason.
As the First Lady said at tonight's State Dinner,
the President is going to present Chancellor Merkel
with the Medal of Freedom.
It's the highest honor a President can bestow
on a civilian.
And this is in recognition of the Chancellor's extraordinary
life and leadership which shows that every single one of us has
the power to overcome whatever barriers might stand in the way.
When she was your age, Chancellor Merkel lived in what
was then Communist East Germany during the cold war behind the
barbed wire of the iron curtain and the Berlin Wall.
It was illegal for East Germans to travel to the West.
And many died trying.
As a university student, Angela Merkel wanted to
study languages.
But the government wouldn't let her follow her dream.
She could watch TV shows from the West,
and she could imagine what life was like in America,
but she could only imagine.
But she worked hard.
She excelled in school.
And then in 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down, Angela Merkel,
like millions of others, could finally experience freedom.
She was a physicist but she decided to enter politics.
And she broke barrier after barrier.
Becoming the first East German and the first woman to become
the leader of Germany.
In fact, she has often been called the most powerful woman
in the world.
Chancellor Merkel's story of hard work and determination
has become an inspiration to people all over the world,
men and women, but especially women, including me.
When I was your age I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with
my live.
I looked around and I saw things I didn't like in the world,
injustices that I wanted to change,
problems that weren't being addressed,
but I had no idea how.
Then in college I had an incredible opportunity: An
internship at the United Nations in New York City.
And I saw that there was a place where nations could come
together and try to make the world a better, safer place.
That's what sparked my interest in public service,
and diplomacy in particular.
The few years ago I was given another incredible opportunity
to return to the United Nations, the place where I had my first
internship, and serve as our ambassador representing
our country.
On occasion when our Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or UN
Ambassador Susan Rice and I were all together at a
Security Council meeting, it was quite a sight.
The top level of the U.S. delegation: All women!
It sent a pretty powerful message about the kind of
country we are.
A place where everyone can be given the opportunity to
contribute and lead.
In fact, a foreign diplomat said to me at one point,
looking at your delegation, I see that we have more work to
do in our own country.
Well, we have a lot more work to do in our country and around the
world to make sure every person is able to grow up in a world of
security and peace and can realize their full potential.
And each of you is going to be a part of making
that world a reality.
Back when I was your age I never imagined serving at
the White House.
Back when she was your age I doubt Angela Merkel ever
imagined that she'd grow up to be the leader of a free
and united Germany.
And there's no telling where your talents will carry you
in the decades to come.
Perhaps one of you will be sitting behind that big desk
in the Oval Office.
But whatever your aspirations and whatever path you choose,
I hope you'll remember this day and the lesson that no matter
the walls or barriers that stand in your way,
if you work hard and you dream big,
you can achieve anything that you put your mind to!
Thank you.
First Lady Michelle Obama: Thank you, so much, Brooke.
Thank you for sharing that story.
And now it's time for dessert!
And we'll remove the podium and then we'll talk some more.