The White House Blog: The First Lady
Weekly Address: The President and First Lady Thank our Troops for their Service as We Celebrate the Holiday SeasonPosted byon December 24, 2011 at 6:30 AM EDT
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama offer a special holiday tribute to some of the strongest, bravest, and most resilient members of our American family – the men and women who wear our country’s uniform and the families who support them:
Watch President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama's full remarks here.
- Posted byon December 16, 2011 at 7:07 PM EDT
This afternoon, First Lady Michelle Obama visited Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling to deliver hundreds of toys that White House staff donated to Toys for Tots, an annual holiday toy drive organized by the Marines. She thanked volunteers and military families for their hard work and dedication to the 60-year old program.
This is hard work. It takes people who take time out of their own families, time to come, shop, sort toys, make sure things get out. I mean, this doesn't happen automatically; it happens because people give up time, precious time with their families to make this happen. So this wouldn't be possible without all of the volunteers. So I want to extend a very big thank you to all of you, especially all of our troops and all of our military families who have led this effort this year, and who lead it every year.
Mrs. Obama made military families a focus of this year’s White House holiday celebration, and today she thanked them for all they do for our nation--and still finding the time and energy to run programs like Toys for Tots.
At the White House, we’re paying tribute to our military this holiday season. All over the White House there are signs of your strength and your sacrifice and your courage. At the White House, we’re showcasing the stories and the pictures of our fallen heroes. We’re giving guests an opportunity to send a thank-you note to troops overseas. And once again, we collected hundreds of toys from White House staff, which I’ve had the honor of bringing here today.
She also encouraged everyone to do their part, no matter how big or small.
You don't have to live in the White House. You don't have to spend a fortune. You don't have to be an expert in military life to be a part of this effort and to lift families up. You just have to be willing to give just a little bit back to your community and to your country.
For more information:
- Read more about this year's holiday theme, Shine, Give, Share, which pays tribute to our troops, veterans, and their families
- Find out where you can donate locally to Toys for Tots
- Learn more about Joining Forces, the First Lady's initiative with Dr. Jill Biden to support veterans and military families.
- Add your own thank you note to an online card that troops all over the world will see will see
- Posted byon December 15, 2011 at 1:00 PM EDT
The White House photo office today released a new official portrait of the First Family, which was taken by Pete Souza in the Oval Office on Sunday December 11, 2011 after the family returned to the White House after church services. The previous official portrait, below, was taken in the Green Room in 2009 by Annie Leibovitz.
- Posted byon December 12, 2011 at 8:30 PM EDT
Today, First Lady Michelle Obama visited patients at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., a tradition that dates back more than 60 years to First Lady Bess Truman. After touring the neonatal intensive care nursery and another unit at the hospital, Mrs. Obama settled in with Santa Claus and First Dog Bo to read T’was the Night Before Christmas to a group of children gathered in the hospital’s atrium.
After story time, the First Lady answered some questions about the Obama family’s Christmas Eve traditions (enjoying a big meal with extended family in Hawaii and waiting for Santa to arrive), her favorite Christmas movie (“It’s a Wonderful Life”), and what she’s getting the President for Christmas (it’s a surprise, of course!).
- Posted byon December 9, 2011 at 4:55 PM EDT
Officially, Hanukkah doesn't begin for another 11 days -- but last night, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama decided to kick things off a little early with a celebration of the holiday at the White House.
They were joined by Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was in attendance, along with Israel's Ambassardor to the United States Michael Oren, the West Point Jewish Chapel Cadet Choir, and a large group of faith and community leaders.
Hanukkah, the President said, is "an opportunity to recognize the miracles in our own lives:"
Let’s honor the sacrifices our ancestors made so that we might be here today. Let’s think about those who are spending this holiday far away from home -– including members of our military who guard our freedom around the world. Let’s extend a hand to those who are in need, and allow the value of tikkun olam to guide our work this holiday season.
This is also a time to be grateful for our friendships, both with each other and between our nations. And that includes, of course, our unshakeable support and commitment to the security of the nation of Israel.
- Posted byon November 30, 2011 at 4:07 PM EDT
Today, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit about the importance of helping our children lead healthier lives by encouraging them to become more active.
The First Lady said that while idea behind the Let’s Move campaign to end childhood obesity has taken off, particularly in terms of making sure kids have access to healthy food, there is still much progress to be made:
Since we launched “Let’s Move,” folks from every sector of society have been stepping up to help our kids lead healthier lives.
Major food manufacturers are cutting sugar, salt and fat from their products. Restaurants are revamping kids’ menus and loading them with healthier, fresher options. Companies like Walgreens, SuperValu, Walmart, Calhoun’s Grocery are committing to build new stores and to sell fresh food in underserved communities all across this country.
Congress passed historic legislation to provide more nutritious school meals to millions of American children. Our schools are growing gardens all over the place. Cities and towns are opening farmers markets. Congregations are holding summer nutrition programs for their kids. Parents are reading those food labels, and they’re rethinking the meals and the snacks that they serve their kids.
So while we still have a long way to go, we have seen so much good progress. We’ve begun to have an impact on how, and what, our kids are eating every single day. And that is so important. It’s so important.
But it’s not enough. There is still more to do. Because we all know that the problem isn’t just what’s happening at meal time or at snack time. It’s also about how our kids are spending the rest of their time each and every day. It’s about how active our kids are.
- Posted byon November 24, 2011 at 9:16 AM EDT
Earlier this week, First Lady Michelle Obama made a surprise phone call to Jessica Allen, the wife of an Army veteran who was deployed in Afghanistan earlier this year, to thank her and her family for their service and sacrifice. Check out the video their conversation.
Today, First Lady Michelle Obama encourage all Americans to send a message of Thanks From Everywhere in a message to the White House email list. If you didn't get the email, be sure to sign up.
Every Thanksgiving, Barack sits down to call some of our troops and thank them for their service.
When he tells me about these conversations, it always reminds me of how blessed we are to live in a country where men and women will stand up to protect our freedoms and preserve our way of life. And whenever I've had the chance to meet with these heroes and their families, I've always walked away inspired by their courage and in awe of their strength.
I can't think of any better way to spend Thanksgiving than letting our servicemembers know how grateful we are for everything that they do. So this year, we're making it easy to do just that.
We've partnered with the USO to create a program called Thanks From Everywhere. To get involved, simply visit JoiningForces.gov/Thanks and write a quick note that troops and veterans all over the world will be able to see.
- Posted byon November 22, 2011 at 5:07 PM EDT
Some of the biggest names in country music gathered in the East Room at the White House on Monday night for a concert that honored the history and traditions of a uniquely American musical genre. Musicians including Alison Krauss, Kris Kristofferson, Lyle Lovett, James Taylor, Dierks Bentley and Darius Rucker paid tribute to many of country music’s most legendary figures through live performances that were enjoyed by President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden and numerous administration officials. The event is part of a series called “In Performance at the White House” which has been produced by PBS throughout every administration since its launch in 1978.
Earlier in the day, Lovett, Rucker and Kristofferson joined the First Lady and local schoolchildren in the State Dining Room for a workshop called “The History of Country Music: From Barn Dances to Pop Charts.” Mrs. Obama welcomed the students to “the People’s House” and reminded them of her vow to make sure everyone, not just“senators and diplomats and CEOs who have a chance to come here but … all Americans, especially young people” feels welcome.
The First Lady encouraged the young audience to explore the surroundings, ask questions and take inspiration from the talented and accomplished musicians who were there to tell their stories:
And that is really my biggest hope for all of you, is that as you sit here and you listen to these fine gentlemen, that you figure out how you can turn something that you love into one of those real jobs, right? I mean, think about the things that really drive you and give you passion. And it might not be music. It might be business, it might be technology, it might be teaching or medicine, or anything else. For me it was working with young people that gave me passion. But no matter what sparks your imagination, I want you to take that energy and then follow it. Follow it with every little piece of energy that you have, because whatever you do, it does take work. And that’s the one thing you have to get in your mind, that even when you love something, if you’re going to be good at it and get good enough at it, you have to invest in it.
And I also want you all to imagine yourselves coming back to the White House maybe years from now, sitting up on this stage and hearing from some future First Lady or future President. And I want you to be thinking about telling your story to the next generation of young people. And you have to be able to see yourselves in these places to begin to imagine and to dream and to work towards those dreams.
"Country Music: In Performance at the White House" will air on local PBS stations on Wednesday, November 23 at 8 p.m. ET
- Posted byon November 14, 2011 at 5:17 PM EDT
This weekend, First Lady Michelle Obama joined the President in Hawaii to host the conference of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders.
At a luncheon for APEC spouses, Mrs. Obama discussed why Hawaii is uniquely suited to entertain talks like those held between the 21 nations in attendance:
Hawaii is an incredibly diverse place; it's home to people of all different cultures. And there’s a special spirit here –- a spirit of openness and tolerance. And I have experienced it myself. I feel like this is my home away from home, a place where I feel welcome and open and optimistic. Folks here view their differences as strengths –- not as weaknesses. And people of all different backgrounds live together and work together and seek to learn from each other.
The meal featured produce from the MA'O Organic Farm -- which the First Lady toured over the weekend. Guiding her through the farm, which is also home to a youth leadership program, were high school and college interns.
At the luncheon, the First Lady presented each of the spouses with a personal gift created by Hawaiian artists.
- Posted byon November 10, 2011 at 3:03 PM EDT
Today, First Lady Michelle Obama was at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to talk about what private companies are doing to help military families.
She announced that a range of businesses now plan to hire 100,000 veterans and military spouses by 2014. She said that the Veterans Jobs Bank -- launched on Monday -- now hosts more than 550,000 job postings from military-friendly employers.
She told the crowd at the Chamber:
This commitment of 100,000 jobs isn’t about making headlines. These wonderful programs don’t just provide a good opportunity for a press conference. All of these efforts are about upholding our sacred duty to our veterans and their families.
Since Joining Forces got off the ground, 16,000 veterans and spouses have already found new positions.
Later today, the Senate is expected to vote on and approve a provision of the American Jobs Act -- which will offer business a $9,600 tax credit for hiring disabled veterans and create additional tax credits for employers who hire veterans who have spent four weeks or more out of work.