The White House Blog: The First Lady

  • Giving Back on the National Day of Service

    President Barack Obama stains shelves during a National Day of Service

    President Barack Obama stains shelves during a National Day of Service school improvement project at Burrville Elementary School in Washington, D.C., Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Today, the First Family kicked off Inauguration weekend by participating in the National Day of Service, helping out with some school improvement projects at Burrville Elementary in Washington, DC.

    President Obama asked Americans around the country to take part in the National Day of Service to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday falls on Inauguration Day this year. The President and First Lady asked that we all remember the importance of giving back and looking out for others – both central to Dr. King’s work – as we celebrate this weekend.

    “This is really what America is about,” President Obama said. “This is what we celebrate.” He said that this Inauguration is “a symbol of how our democracy works and how we peacefully transfer power, but it should also be an affirmation that we’re all in this together and that we’ve got to look out for each other and work hard on behalf of each other.”

  • Young Reporters Ask All the Right Questions About Helping Military Families

    Michelle Obama and Jill Biden with kid reporters, Jan. 18, 2013

    First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden are interviewed by young reporters during a kids magazine roundtable in the First Lady’s Office in the East Wing of the White House, Jan. 18, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Sonya Hebert)

    Yesterday, the First Lady and Dr. Biden sat down with four exceptional young reporters from kids’ magazines to talk about their initiative to support military families, Joining Forces. The reporters – from Highlights, National Geographic Kids, Scholastic and TIME for Kids – asked some great questions about the initiative and how kids can help!

    Some of the takeaways?

    • Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden talked about how they encourage all Americans to look for ways to honor and support military families, and Dr. Biden said when her son Beau was deployed their church put his name in the bulletin to pray for him, people brought meals over, and someone shoveled her daughter-in-law’s driveway during a snowstorm. 
    • Asked about advice for a military child who moves a lot, Dr. Biden encouraged them to get involved in sports teams and school activities. And as a teacher herself, she talked about how teachers can get involved to reach out to military kids. For example, Dr. Biden’s granddaughters’ teacher put a picture of her dad’s unit outside of her classroom so the entire class would know Beau was deployed. 
    • Mrs. Obama encouraged all the kids’ magazines’ readers to think “what can I do?” for a new kid in school – especially a new military kid. 

  • Follow First Lady Michelle Obama @FLOTUS on Twitter

    Yesterday, on First Lady Michelle Obama’s birthday, the White House launched its newest Twitter account: @FLOTUS (short for First Lady of the United States). The White House uses Twitter to connect directly with Americans, and now you can get the latest from the Office of the First Lady.

    @FLOTUS followers will get regular updates and photos from the First Lady’s team, plus special messages directly from the First Lady. Tweets signed “-mo”, like this one, are from Mrs. Obama.

    In less than 24-hours, the account has racked up more than 75,000 followers – but we’re just getting started. Here are some of things you can expect to see from @FLOTUS:

    • Behind-the-scenes photos and updates
    • Opportunities to engage directly with the First Lady and the White House
    • News about the First Lady’s initiatives, Let’s Move! @LetsMove and Joining Forces @JoiningForces

    Take a look at some of the most popular tweets from FLOTUS' first day on twitter below, or over on Storify. If you have ideas on the kinds of updates or engagement you’d like to see from the new @FLOTUS account, or feedback about our online program generally, let us know on twitter with the hashtag #whweb.

    Follow @FLOTUS on Twitter

    On First Lady Michelle Obama’s birthday, the White House launched its newest twitter account: @FLOTUS (short for First Lady of the United States). Take a look at @FLOTUS' first day on twitter, and follow for updates.

    Storified by The White House· Fri, Jan 18 2013 07:44:53

    The @FLOTUS Office is now on @twitter & will post updates & pics. When it's her, she'll sign -mo. PS: RT to wish Mrs. Obama a #HappyBirthdayFLOTUS
    Happy Birthday to the 1st Lady of the U.S., @FLOTUS Michelle Obama, from the 1st lady in line at the Cost Plus sale, Ellen DeGeneres.Ellen DeGeneres
    Wishing @FLOTUS Michelle Obama a #HappyBirthday & a warm welcome to @twitter!Jay Carney (EOP)
    Happy birthday and welcome to Twitter First Lady of the United States, @FLOTUS, the official @WhiteHouse handle for @MichelleObama.Twitter Government
    Happy birthday @michelleobama, a great inspiration as @FLOTUSMelinda Gates
    #TDSBreakingNews the @FLOTUS joins Twitter. Vows to get everyone's tweets down to a trim 95 characters.The Daily Show
    @FLOTUS Happy birthday to a phenomenal superwoman!!! Thank u for being a light!! Shine shine on!!;-)Alicia Keys
    Happy Birthday, First Lady @MichelleObama! Thanks for advocating healthy lifestyles, supporting military families, inspiring women! @FLOTUSeBay
    The First Lady just met with Inaugural citizen co-chair David Hall ahead of #MLKDay of Service:
    Thanks for the warm welcome & birthday wishes! Join me & Barack for #MLKDay of Service this Saturday. Sign up: –moFLOTUS

    Already following @FLOTUS? Be sure to check out all of our official accounts:

  • 2012: A Year in Photos

    The White House photo team has a front row view for all the events — both big and small — that take place at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., as well as on the road with the President, the Vice President and the First Family.

    Each January, Pete Souza, Chief Official White House Photographer and Director of the White House Photography Office, selects his favorite images from the past twelve months, and now, we're sharing them with you. Featuring exclusive perspectives of everything from Presidential trips and events to private moments between President Obama and his family, his staff and American citizens, this collection offers a unique view of 2012.

    See 2012: A Year in Photos

  • President and Mrs. Obama Visit Troops on Christmas Day

    President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visit with members of the military at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Dec. 25, 2012

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks as he and First Lady Michelle Obama visit with members of the military and their families at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, Dec. 25, 2012. (by Pete Souza)

    Continuing what has become an annual tradition that is a highlight of their holiday celebrations, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama spent some time on Christmas Day at the Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. 

    The First Couple was there to visit with military families, and to thank them for the extraordinary work they do each and every day:

    Obviously, the greatest honor I have as President is being Commander-in-Chief. And the reason it’s an honor is because not only do we have the finest military in the world but we also have the finest fighting men and women in the world. And so many of you make sacrifices day in, day out on behalf of our freedom, on behalf of our security.  

    And not only do those in uniform make sacrifices, but I think everybody here understands the sacrifices that families make each and every day as well.  And Michelle, working with Dr. Jill Biden, has done a lot of work to focus attention on our military families to make sure that you get the support that you have earned and that you deserve.

    So I’m not going to make a long speech. Obviously, we’re still in a wartime footing. There are still folks, as we speak, who are overseas, especially in Afghanistan, risking their lives each and every day. Some of you may have loved ones who are deployed there.  Some of you may be about to be deployed there. And so we know that it’s not easy. But what we also want you to know is that you have the entire country behind you, and that all of us understand that we would be nowhere without the extraordinary service that you guys provide.

    And so we want to say thank you, we love you. 

    Watch the President's full remarks


  • Watch: First Lady Michelle Obama Reads "Twas the Night Before Christmas"

    Paying a visit to the young patients at the Children's National Medical Center is a holiday tradition that dates back to the 1950s, when Bess Truman was First Lady. When First Lady Michelle Obama stopped by earlier this month with Bo, she took some time to read the holiday classic, "A Visit from St. Nicholas", which is better known to many Americans as "Twas the Night Before Christmas". 

  • Weekly Address: The President and First Lady Extend a Holiday Greeting and Thank our Troops for their Service

    In this week’s address, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and thank our brave troops and their families for their service. The President and First Lady ask the American people to visit to find ways to honor and support our veterans and military families, and say that we must all come together, as we always do, to care for each other during this holiday season.

    Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

  • First Lady Michelle Obama: “Talking to Our Kids about Newtown”

    In an open letter to parents, First Lady Michelle Obama offers some ideas for discussing the tragedy in Newtown with children and young people. Read the First Lady’s letter below:

    Dear parents,

    Like every American, Barack and I are absolutely heartbroken about the unspeakable tragedy that occurred last week in Newtown, Connecticut.  And like so many of you, our first reactions were not as a President and First Lady, but as a Mom and Dad.  We were asking ourselves, what if this had been our town, or our school, or our girls? 

    And we know that all across the country, it’s not just adults who are asking questions right now – our children are looking for answers as well.  Like us, they want to know, why did this happen? 

    Could it happen again?  And as parents, all of us can take the time to hold our kids close and talk with them about the things that truly matter: our love for them, the importance of extending that love to those affected by this tragedy, and how that love truly defines our great American community.

    We can tell our kids that we’re doing everything we can to keep them safe and make sure they feel loved – and so are their teachers, coaches, faith leaders, Scout leaders and everyone else who plays a role in their lives. 

    We can remind them to be grateful for the educators who work every day to help them achieve their dreams – and for the first responders who risk their lives at a moment’s notice to protect ours.

    We can tell them about the extraordinary people of Newtown and how they have responded to unspeakable tragedy: the educators who sprang into action; the children who carefully followed instructions and comforted each other amidst the chaos; the neighbors and faith leaders who have come together to support one another.

    And finally, we can tell them that it’s our job now to stand with the people of Newtown – to pray for them and to find ways, large and small, to show them that they are not alone in their grief.  It is now up to us to carry the memory of those who were lost in our hearts and to follow their example every day, living our lives as they lived theirs – with courage, determination, hope and love.  Those are the values that give us our strength as Americans and that we return to in times of crisis – not just because they help us heal, but because they define who we are, as a people and as a nation.

    May the memories of those we lost be a blessing to their families, their community and our country, and may God be with the people of Newtown as they begin the slow and painful work of healing and moving forward. 


    Michelle Obama

  • West Wing Week: 12/21/12 or "We Are There For Them"

    Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. This week, the President addressed the national tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, and promised meaningful action to address gun violence. The White House also hosted some of its newest Pinterest followers, and the President spread some holiday cheer.

  • Hanukkah at the White House: A Menorah that Survived Sandy

    President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Rabbi Larry Bazer at the 2012 Hanukkah reception, Dec. 13, 2012

    President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Rabbi Larry Bazer participate in the Menorah lighting during the Hanukkah reception in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Dec. 13, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on Thursday welcomed friends and leaders from the Jewish community to celebrate the sixth night of Hanukkah. In his remarks, the President remembered the enduring story of resilience and optimism that is the essence of this holiday:

    Over 2,000 years ago, a tyrant forbade the Israelites from practicing their religion and his forces desecrated the Holy Temple.  So Judah Maccabee gathered a small band of believers to fight this oppression, and against all odds, they prevailed.  And the Maccabees liberated Jerusalem and restored the faith of its people.  And when they went to reclaim the Temple, the people of Jerusalem received another gift from God -- the oil that should have lasted only one night burned for eight.  That miraculous flame brought hope and it sustained the faithful.

    To this day, Jews around the world honor the Maccabees' everlasting hope that light will overcome the darkness, that goodness will overcome evil, and that faith can accomplish miracles.The celebration this year was a tribute to more recent examples of resilience and optimism as well. The 90-year-old menorah used in the ceremony came from the Temple Israel synagogue in Long Beach, New York, which was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy. It served as a symbol of perseverance, and as a reminder of those who are still recovering from Sandy’s destruction. 

    This was not the first year that Rabbi Larry Bazer, the Joint Forces Chaplain for the Massachusetts National Guard, was asked to light the candles at the White House Hanukkah celebration. Last year, Rabbi Bazer was unable to attend because he was four months into his deployment in Afghanistan, and he spent every night of Hanukkah with a different group of soldiers. As President Obama noted, "he had a pretty good excuse" for turning down that invitation.

    Update: Learn more about the 2012 White House Menorah in this video: