the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the First Lady at the Opening Ceremony of the Warrior Games

Olympic Training Center
Colorado Springs, Colorado


3:52 P.M. MDT


MRS. OBAMA:  Thank you so much.  Wow.  (Applause.)  Everyone, please, rest yourselves.

Let me start by thanking General Dempsey for that very kind introduction and for all that he and his family does for this country.  It has been such an honor to work with the General, with his wife Deanie.  And we are just grateful for your service.  It has been a true pleasure for me to have them as partners.

I also want to join in in recognizing everyone from Deloitte, the Fisher House Foundation, the USO and the United States Olympic Committee for their support of the Warrior Games.  And I want to join in in recognizing Senator Michael Bennet, Congressman Lamborn, Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia -- you all, thank you for your service and thank you for taking the time to join us here.

And I also have to give a warm welcome to all of the members of the British armed forces who are here to compete as well.  We are thrilled that you could make the trip, but I want to warn you that nobody is going to go easy on you because of a little jet lag.  (Laughter.)  So that's no excuse, okay? 

And, of course, I want to recognize all of our troops, veterans and military families who are here today.  As you have seen, we have folks from the Army, the Navy, the Coast Guard, the Air Force and the Marine Corps.  Just breathtaking is all I have to say.  And I am humbled and inspired. 

As First Lady, one of the best parts of my job is spending time with all of you.  Because whenever I go to Walter Reed or visit one of our military bases or talk with military families at the White House or anywhere else for that matter, I get to hear the stories of your service and your sacrifice, and that is what has moved me so much.

I get to see your strength and your determination.  I get to see that up close, firsthand, as you tell me that you're not just going to walk again but you're going to run, and you're going to run marathons.  That's what I hear.  No matter how seriously you're injured, no matter what obstacles or setbacks you face, you just keep moving forward.  You just keep moving forward.  You just keep pushing yourselves to succeed in ways that just mystify and leave us all in awe.

And that's why I am so excited to be here, so humbled to be here as we kick off the 2012 Warrior Games, because this week all of that is going to be on display for the entire world and that’s exciting.

The world will see athletes like Captain Jon Disbro, who is a proud member of the U.S. Marines.    (Applause.)  Captain Disbro was wounded in Iraq in 2004, and after 18 surgeries on his foot and ankle, his leg was amputated below the knee.  And today, he is the reigning Warrior Games ultimate champion for his performances in swimming, shooting, sprinting, hiking, and the shot put.  Whew, I’m just tired mentioning all that.  (Laughter and applause.)

And then, there’s Navy Lieutenant Brad Snyder.  (Applause.)  In September, Lieutenant Snyder was blinded by an IED explosion in Afghanistan.  This week, he is competing as a swimmer and a runner.  Here is what he says about his service to our country, both past and future -- and these are his words.  He says, “I’m not going to let blindness build a brick wall around me.  I’d give my eyes 100 times again to have the chance to do what I have done and what I can still do.”

And then, there’s Army Staff Sergeant Krisell Creager-Lumpkins.  (Applause.)  During a training exercise in 2010, she suffered a traumatic brain injury that resulted in a brain aneurysm.  But this week, she is proud to represent the Army in five events, because as she says -- “other wounded, ill, and injured soldiers, that your injuries don’t define you, they amplify you.”
 
Every competitor here has faced adversity that most of us can never imagine.  But because of your hard work, because of your grit and your resilience, today those challenges amplify all of you.  And this week, you all are serving as role models for people in America and truly around the world.  You’re inspiring all of us to dig just a little bit deeper, to work just a little bit harder, to strive for something that seems maybe too far out of reach.
 
And that work doesn’t end here in Colorado.  Once these games are over, you all have the power and the platform to keep on inspiring people all across this country, especially our young people -- really, especially our young people.  You can inspire these kids to get active.  You can inspire them to overcome obstacles.  You can inspire them to achieve things they’ve never dreamed of.  And that’s really going to be my message as I head to London this summer to lead the presidential delegation to the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games. It’s really going to be a focus on our kids.

I’m going to emphasize that competitions like the Olympics, the Paralympics and the Warrior Games aren’t just about who wins the gold or who sets a new record.  They're about getting involved and working together.  They're about competing fairly and triumphing over adversity, and they're also about how service and patriotism aren’t simply words or symbols; they're the choices you make and the way you live your lives.

And that message doesn't just come from our troops and our wounded warriors, it really comes from our military families, as well, who I have just come to love deeply.  It comes from spouses who are running their households all alone during those long deployments.  It comes from kids who are succeeding in school and stepping up at home, and putting on a brave face through all the challenges they face. 

So I want all of you to know that your work, your commitment, your devotion to this country does not go unnoticed.  It truly does not.  We are all so grateful and proud of your service, and we all want to find some way to say thank you.

And that's why last year Jill Biden and I -- that we launched Joining Forces, a nationwide campaign to recognize, honor and support our men and women in uniform and their families.

And that work was started, of course, by my husband, your Commander-in-Chief.  Over the past few years, he championed the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which has helped more than half a million veterans and military family members go to college.  He signed a law that provides tax credit for businesses that hire veterans and wounded warriors.  And he has worked to end the outrage of veterans’ homelessness.  And on top of all that, through Joining Forces, businesses are -- they're hiring tens of thousands of veterans and military spouses.  Doctors and nurses and medical students are learning new techniques to care for our troops and veterans.  Schools and faith groups and community organizations are reaching out to military families and children all across this country.

So what I always want to tell all of you when I get the opportunity is that I want you to know that America does have your back.  I have seen it.  America wants to step up and honor you in the way that you have honored this country.

And this week, as you’re competing and pushing yourselves harder than ever before, I want you to remember that you have got a First Lady and a President who is cheering you on not just today, but truly every single day.  And you have an entire country that loves you and respects you, and strives to live up to the example that all of you set.  Truly, that is a fact.

So I want to wish you all the best of luck.  More importantly have fun and don't get hurt.  (Laughter.)  Stay out of trouble, and God bless you all.  And God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
4:02 P.M. MDT