Thank you, Christine. It’s not easy having to change schools, especially in high school. But with running and student council, you’ve become a true leader here. I know you’ve got a bright future ahead.

Thank you, Leslie, for welcoming us to Knob Noster—and I also want to thank Stephany for showing us around Whiteman Elementary earlier today. I loved hearing from your students!

When we landed this morning, we were greeted by the incredible leadership of Whiteman Air Force Base. And with us is one of our great civilian leaders—Secretary Cardona.

Miguel, you remind us that serving our military-connected students isn’t just the responsibility of our military. It takes all of our government coming together to honor their service and sacrifice.

And it takes all of our communities, as well. That’s why I’m so grateful for students like Tony who strengthen this school for all students, military and civilian alike.

Good afternoon, Panthers! I’m so excited to be here—and to see all of this school spirit! And I’m especially excited to celebrate Month of the Military Child with you.

Now, I know not all of you know me very well, so I want to tell you a little bit about myself. I, too, come from a military family.

My dad served in the Navy during World War II—though that was long before I was born. And my son Beau, was a Major in the Delaware Army National Guard.

Just one day after my husband Joe’s first Vice Presidential debate in 2008, Beau deployed to Iraq.

As you can guess, it was a pretty incredible time for the entire family. We were flying to different cities in one day, going to rallies and giving interviews.

Then—we won.

When we got the news, it was one of the best moments of our lives. And all we wanted to do was share it with Beau.

So when we went out to the victory rally, we video-called his unit from a laptop. They were all together, eating pizza, and as soon as I saw his smiling face, it was like something in my heart clicked back into place.

We carried the laptop on stage with us and showed him the crowd of a million cheering people. It wasn’t as good as having him there, but it meant the world to me just the same.   

Life doesn’t stop just because someone you love needs to be halfway around the world. Or because your parent gets the call to move to a new town. You find ways to make it work.

But it’s hard sometimes. I saw it with Beau’s children, Natalie and little Hunter.

Like many of your families, we all did our best to make up for his absence, with big birthday parties and extra attention. But we couldn’t fill that empty chair at dinner time. No one could but their daddy.

I once asked Natalie what she would tell a child like herself, whose mom or dad was going to be deployed, and she said, “Nana, I wouldn’t tell her anything because I wouldn’t want her to be sad.”

So, I understand a little of what military families go through. You face unique challenges—and your stories don’t always get told.

That’s why I’m here today—to shine a light on what it means to be a military kid.

More than 10 years ago, I helped launch Joining Forces—a White House initiative to support military and veteran families like some of yours. And since then, I’ve heard your stories.

I’ve heard what it’s like to work so hard to become captain of your sports team or the lead in your school play, only to realize that your next school doesn’t have the program you love.

I’ve heard about what it’s like to stay up late, worrying about the safety of someone you love most in the world. Or what it’s like to leave behind best friends and wonder if you’ll be able to keep in touch.

Our non-military connected students know what that’s like too. It affects your whole community, right?  

But I’ve also heard about the great parts of this journey: The chance to see different parts of our country—or meet people from around the world.

The friendships that are close enough to span the many miles between you—that take more work than walking next door, but are worth it, just the same.

How you learn to adapt to any situation and realize that you’re capable of more than you thought.

This life is unlike any other. You face different challenges from most kids your age—challenges that the adults in your life can’t shield you from, no matter how hard we try.

Parents, I know there have been moments when you’ve asked yourself if you made the right choice for your child during your service.

But I hope you see how the path you’ve chosen has made these students the incredible people they have become—people who are ready for whatever the world has in store for them. Isn’t that what all parents want for our children?

The lives of military students may not be defined by the edges of a hometown. Your school journey may look different than the ones we see in movies. But that’s what makes you unique.

The lessons you’ve learned have made you strong, wise, kind, and courageous.

The experiences you’ve had are the gifts that you have to give.

You have so much to teach us all.

And that’s why we have to tell your stories.

Our world is your hometown, and as you serve and represent our nation, you are shaping it, every day.

God bless our troops and their families.

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