"So Many 'Firsts' and 'Onlys'": The First Lady Honors Military Women

Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (540MB) | mp3 (25MB)

Veterans Day serves as a reminder to not only honor America's men in uniform, but also the women—the mothers, sisters, daughters, and grandmothers who, throughout history, broke barriers and endured hardships to serve our country.  Today at the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama, along with Blue Star Mom Dr. Jill Biden, welcomed some of those women in celebration of their bravery and commitment to protecting our freedoms:

In this room alone, we have the first female four star general.  We have the first woman in the Navy to be promoted to Master Chief.  The first woman in the Army Reserve to be promoted to the general officer rank.  We have the first woman in the Army to receive the Expert Field Medical Badge.  We have the first African American woman to serve as Chief Nurse at Walter Reed Hospital.  And so many more "firsts" and "onlys" -- and that's the result of your hard work and your courage and your persistence.

But we know these achievements aren’t yours alone.  That's something that Jill and I have talked about, we've learned more about over the course of this year, because we know that service doesn’t just end with the person wearing the uniform.  You all know that.  We know that our servicemen and women’s sacrifices are their families' sacrifices as well.  And many of you have spouses, partners, children, parents who stood by you and encouraged you and prayed for you every step of the way.  And this day is their day too, as far as we're concerned.  So let’s take a moment to recognize those members of our families who supported you in your service as well.  (Applause.)

Military Women at Tea

First Lady Michelle Obama attends a Women in the Military Tea in the East Room of the White House Nov. 18, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton) November 18, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

The First Lady continued, praising them not only for the good they've done, but for the good they have inspired in others:

But I hope you all know that your service -- that your legacy is more than just your own service.  I hope that you know that your legacy will be measured in the service of every woman who follows in the trails that you've blazed -- every woman who benefits from your daring and determination.  It will be measured in the inspiration that you provide to our daughters and our granddaughters -- and to our sons and our grandsons as well.

Because of you, when young women wonder how high they can rise in our military, they can look at General Ann Dunwoody and her four hard earned stars.  That can see that, it's real.  When they ask what kind of jobs they can do, they can look to women like all of you who’ve played just about every kind of role imaginable.  And when they ask whether they can cut it -- whether they have what it takes to succeed -- all they have to do is to look at your lives, to look into your lives and to look at the careers that you've developed that inspire us all.

First Lady at the Military Tea

First Lady Michelle Obama attends a Women in the Military Tea in the East Room of the White House Nov. 18, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton) November 18, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

First Lady at Military Tea with Veterans

First Lady Michelle Obama attends a Women in the Military Tea in the East Room of the White House Nov. 18, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton) November 18, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Related Topics: Veterans, Women
JUMP TO: