The White House Blog: The First Lady
- Posted byon September 22, 2011 at 1:57 PM EDT
America is the country that built the transcontinental railroad and the interstate highway system; the Hoover Dam and Grand Central Station but today, we have roads, bridges, airports and railway lines all across the country that are in need of repair and updating. This afternoon, President Obama was in Cincinnati, Ohio where the Brent Spence Bridge, located on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America, is in such poor condition that it has been labeled functionally obsolete.
The American Jobs Act, a set of ideas supported by both Democrats and Republicans, includes $50 billion for immediate investment in America's infrastructure. This investment not only improves Americans' daily lives by making commutes shorter and safer, but it puts construction workers across the country to work in much needed middle class jobs.
To better understand how the American Jobs Act will improve our nation's infrastructure and put Americans back to work, take a look at the infographic below.
- Posted byon September 20, 2011 at 4:22 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Cross-posted from the Let's Move! blog.
On the sunniest of sunny days earlier this month at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Let's Move! was alive with action packed fun. The First Lady joined tennis greats Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, James Blake and Serena Williams in serving, lobbing and smashing tennis balls with children from the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program and the New York Junior Tennis League. The stars and First Lady kept up pretty well with the junior acers.
The occasion for the mini-tournament was to highlight the importance of physical activity and celebrate the US Tennis Association's (USTA) successful implementation of their commitments to build or refurbish thousands of tennis courts in cities all over the United States so that children and youth can have access to the "sport of a lifetime". The USTA was also demonstrating the new Ten-and-Under tennis courts that are making tennis accessible to more and more younger children. No longer will a seven-year-old get discouraged when the racquet is too heavy or the net is almost as tall as she is. Scaled down to child size, the new Ten-and-Under courts keep children in the center of the picture...right on center court.
- Posted byon September 16, 2011 at 6:00 AM EDT
The full text of an op-ed by First Lady Michelle Obama is printed below. The piece, published in USA Today, can be read online HERE.
Last weekend, Americans across the country joined together to remember that September morning from 10 years ago, honoring the memory of those we lost with service and reflection. And my husband and I were humbled to stand with the families and survivors on the same hallowed grounds where tragedy struck.
Yet what shines most brightly from last weekend is not memories of horror, but images of heroes; not the echoes of evil that sought to divide, but the compassion that compelled us to unite. What lasts from this anniversary is the true spirit of America that was laid bare that day and remains alive today: the courage of those who lost loved ones; the strength of those who survived; the bravery of those who ran not away from but into danger.
Those are the same qualities that live on every day among a generation of American troops and their families whose service has been defined by 9/11 and its aftermath. This anniversary also gives us the opportunity to reflect on all that these families have endured and our obligations to them now and in the years ahead.
They're the 9/11 Generation — the more than 5 million servicemembers who have worn the uniform this past decade and their families. They've rightfully earned not only the admiration of a grateful nation, but also a place in history alongside our greatest generations. More than 2 million men and women have served in the war zones, including an unprecedented number of deployments by our National Guardsmen and Reservists. We've never asked so much of our all-volunteer force.
And we've never asked this much of our military families, either. Found in nearly every community in this country, these brave family members serve right alongside their loved ones. They just don't wear uniforms. They're spouses who balance a career and a household all alone while their loved ones are deployed. They're young children who have known only life in a nation at war. They're teenagers who are all too familiar with Dad or Mom being gone for months at a time.
Yet even with all that they shoulder, these military family members are some of the most extraordinary individuals I've ever met: the moms who always seem to pick up the extra carpool shift, the kids who take on extra chores around the house, the survivors of our fallen who step up every day to serve our communities, and the veterans and wounded warriors who have served our country heroically on the battlefield and continue to contribute here at home.
It's our turn
No matter what the situation or how many directions they're being pulled in, our military families always stand ready to serve their loved ones, their communities and our country.
After 10 years of war, it's our turn to return their service and sacrifice with honor and appreciation of our own — and not just in word, but in deed.
That's why last spring, Jill Biden and I launched Joining Forces, a national initiative to address the unique needs and expand the opportunities of these remarkable men, women and children. Businesses can work to employ veterans and help military spouses build careers. Schools can make sure they're properly supporting military kids. Citizens can reach out to organizations who serve military families right in their communities. Every single person, group or community can do something, and we've already seen countless individuals, organizations and businesses step up to answer this call. To see what others are up to, and to join forces yourself, please visit us at www.joiningforces.gov .
I hope you do.
As we reaffirm our commitment to hold dear the heroism, strength and compassion we saw on Sept. 11, let's also pledge to keep our military families in our hearts long after this anniversary has passed. These men, women and children have served valiantly in the decade since that fateful day.
Now it's up to us to serve them as well.
- Posted byon September 15, 2011 at 4:50 PM EDT
As part of the Let's Move! initiative, this morning First Lady Michelle Obama joined Partnership for a Healthier America, Red Lobster, Olive Garden and other family chains owned by Darden Restaurants to announce a commitment from Darden to reduce calories and sodium in their meals and to provide healthier options in their kids’ menus.
In America today, one of every two dollars spent on food is spent in restaurants, and over one-third of calories consumed in America are eaten at restaurants, so providing nutritious choices in restaurants goes a long way in keeping families healthy. At an Olive Garden in Hyattsville, Maryland, the First Lady explained the significance of this announcement:
Often, parents assume that when a restaurant offers a separate kids’ menu that the food on that menu will actually be good for their kids. They assume that the portion sizes will be reasonable. They assume that the food will be just as nutritious as food that they prepare for their kids at home.
But too often, that’s simply not the case. Research has shown that meals kids eat at restaurants have nearly twice the calories as meals they have at home. And for some options on kids’ menus, they have more than 1,000 calories. One thousand calories -- that’s approaching the recommended daily amount of [calories] that you guys should be eating, right?
- Posted byon September 13, 2011 at 2:26 PM EDT
Some of the nation’s leading design talents joined First Lady Michelle Obama today to help educate Washington DC teens about career opportunities in their field. The designers, who are being honored by the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum for their extraordinary contributions to design in 10 different categories, took part in a Teen Design Fair before attending a luncheon at the White House, which was hosted by Mrs. Obama.
During her remarks at the luncheon, the First Lady praised the winners for breathing “new life into our homes and our workplaces, the clothes we wear, the products we use every day, and even the most basic ways we process information. A trip to the park is just a bit more refreshing. A book or a chart more readable.” She also addressed the aspiring designers in the room, and emphasized the hard work that goes into great design:
I want you young folks, and as you look around the room, understand that you see some of the sharpest minds alive, some of the most accomplished designers in the world. But understand that none of these people came here ready-made -- all right? They’re here today because they hatched an idea or they followed a dream -- and more importantly, they worked every day, they worked hard every day, to get here.
So to the young people here, I want you to realize that you can share a meal with some of our nation’s greatest talent, you can walk on the same floors as Presidents and as heads of state. And if you work hard enough, if you believe in yourself, you can earn an award just like this in a few decades...
- Lifetime Achievement: Matthew Carter
- Design Mind: Steven Heller
- Corporate and Institutional Achievement: Knoll
- Architecture Design: Architecture Research Office
- Communication Design: Rick Valicenti
- Fashion Design: J. Mendel
- Interaction Design: Ben Fry
- Interior Design: Shelton, Mindel & Associates
- Landscape Architecture: Gustafson Guthrie Nichol
- Product Design: Continuum
- Posted byon September 12, 2011 at 9:05 PM EDT
This weekend, President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden remembered those who were lost in the attacks on September 11, 2001. September 11th has been designated as a National Day of Service and Remembrance and the First Family started the weekend by joining Americans from across the country in participating in service projects to honor those whose lives were taken ten years ago.
On Saturday, Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden were joined by President George W. Bush, President Bill Clinton, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and former First Lady Laura Bush in Shanksville, Pennsylvania to participate in a dedication ceremony for the first phase of the Flight 93 National Memorial.
- Posted byon September 6, 2011 at 4:22 PM EDT
Tomorrow is the grand opening of Austin's Warrior Playroom, a great new addition to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Austin's Playroom is a space for young family members of wounded warriors to play and relax while their parents attend to medical needs.
Mario Lemieux, the current owner and former NHL player who led the Pittsburgh Penguins to two consecutive Stanley Cups, and his wife Nathalie Lemieux helped make Austin's Warrior Playroom possible as an initiative of the Mario Lemieux Foundation. Before the grand opening they received a preview of the playroom and Nathalie Lemieux had this to share:
Recently, my husband, Mario, and I were given a “sneak-peek” at the Austin’s Warrior Playroom located in the newly-established Warrior Transition Unit on the campus of the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. While not scheduled to officially open until September, our dreams for this special playroom are nearly complete.
The 2,000 sq. ft. playroom will accommodate children from six weeks up to 12 years. The room is equipped with the newest toys and games including video gaming systems, creative and imaginative play areas and an interactive kiosk. From our personal experience, this room will give children a space to call their own while parents attend to medical needs, but will also allow them to remain together as a family. We believe providing an environment that is cheerful, safe and comfortable for children and patients is an essential complement to medical treatment when addressing the quality of a child and families’ hospital experience.
When we began Austin’s Playroom Project in 2000 as an initiative of the Mario Lemieux Foundation, I never dreamed it would grow so large. Our son, Austin, was born profoundly pre-mature at Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and with two young daughters, it was difficult to manage our time together. It was then that we dreamed of someday helping future families who find themselves in similar situations. Since that time, we have established 22 playrooms throughout western Pennsylvania, with six more scheduled to open by the end of 2012.
Austin’s Warrior Playroom marks a new initiative in the Austin’s Playroom Project. The Mario Lemieux Foundation is proud to join forces with the US military to establish an Austin’s Playroom in the new Medical Center to bring joy and happiness in what otherwise will be a very difficult and stressful situation. We hope this playroom provides comfort, warmth and love for these very special families.
Learn how you can support military families at JoiningForces.gov and check out more preview photos of Austin's Playroom at Walter Reed Medical Center:
- Posted byon August 1, 2011 at 5:53 PM EDT
Editor's Note: Mrs. Obama's op-ed originally appeared in U.S. News and World Report.
Over the past few years, I’ve had the privilege of meeting so many of our nation’s men and women in uniform and their families. I’ve laughed with them at baby showers and graduations. I’ve sat with them at hospital bedsides. I’ve listened to their stories, learned from their experiences, and witnessed the strength of the families of our fallen heroes.
And each time I speak with a veteran or military spouse, I am awed by their strength and resilience. And I am struck by just how much they’re contributing to our communities every single day.
- Posted byon July 27, 2011 at 11:53 AM EDT
Nothing says summer like a cookout and this past weekend First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden joined military families at the New Hampshire National Guard Headquarters in Concord for just that. Dr. Biden kicked things off by sharing her experience as a military mom:
My son, Beau, is a Captain in the Delaware Army National Guard and he recently spent a year in Iraq, so I know well the challenges that Guard families face when their soldiers are away. And I also know how much it means when communities rally around family members who are managing in their soldier’s absence.
The First Lady and I came here today for a very simple reason: to say thank you to all of you for all of your service. You and your family -- service members around the country and the world inspire us with your strength and your resilience, and that applies especially to the family members of all ages who are here today.
The First Lady and I are working hard through our “Joining Forces” initiative to make sure that every American understands the sacrifices that each of you as family members are making for the security of our nation.
And we hope to inspire more communities around the country to reach out to military families like we are doing tonight in Concord and like I saw in Portsmouth...earlier today.
The First Lady and Dr. Biden have been inspired by traveling the country and seeing how Americans are stepping up to support our military members and their families. That is why they just announced the Joining Forces Community Challenge, which will recognize individuals and groups around the country who are making a difference in the lives of military families. As the First Lady said at the cookout, those who serve and their families represent the very best of America:
All of you are perfect examples of the 9/11 Generation. You’ve gone through unprecedented deployments. You’ve helped to defend our security through a decade of war. And you’ve strengthened our country not just as National Guardsmen and Reservists, but as teachers and as firefighters and businessmen and women, as well.
You represent the very best of America –- a devotion to family, to community, and to country. And I just want to tell you that Jill and I could not be more inspired by all of you.
You all are the reasons why Jill and I have launched this nationwide initiative that we’re calling Joining Forces because we want this entire country to recognize, and honor, and support our military members and their families. We want you to know that this country has your back.
- Posted byon July 25, 2011 at 10:02 AM EDT
FIrst Lady Michelle Obama joined three thousand military and civilian volunteers last week in Fayetteville, NC to give one selfless Navy veteran the surprise of her life.
Barbara Summey Marshall, who served 15 years in the Navy, shares her home with the Steps N Stages Jubilee House,which provides shelter, support and services such as mentoring and life coaching, to homeless female veterans. Marshell's intentions were impressive, but the modest, 1,600- square-foot ranch house was in need of major renovations.
Fortunately, the volunteers working on the home renovations were overseen by a team that has some impressive experience of their own: Ty Pennington and his crew from "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition". In one week of 24 hour days, Marshall's humble home was replaced by a two-story, 5,000-square-foot house with plenty of space for her family, and for the women she has dedicated her life to helping.