Full Text Political Transcripts January 6, 2017: First Lady Michelle Obama’s Farewell Speech to the Nation

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Michelle Obama’s Final Remarks as First Lady

Source: Time, 1-6-17

OBAMA: Hey! (Applause.) What’s going on? (Applause.) Thank you all so much. You guys, that’s a command — rest yourselves. (Laughter.) We’re almost at the end. (Laughter.) Hello, everyone. And, may I say for the last time officially, welcome to the White House. Yes! (Applause.) Well, we are beyond thrilled to have you all here to celebrate the 2017 National School Counselor of the Year, as well as all of our State Counselors of the Year. These are the fine women, and a few good men — (laughter) — one good man — who are on this stage, and they represent schools from across this country.

And I want to start by thanking Terri for that wonderful introduction and her right-on-the-spot remarks. I’m going to say a lot more about Terri in a few minutes, but first I want to take a moment to acknowledge a few people who are here.

First, our outstanding Secretary of Education, John King. (Applause.) As well as our former Education Secretary, Arne Duncan. (Applause.) I want to take this time to thank you both publicly for your dedication and leadership and friendship. We couldn’t do this without the support of the Department of Education under both of your leadership. So I’m grateful to you personally, and very proud of all that you’ve done for this country.

I also want to acknowledge a few other special guests we have in the audience. We’ve got a pretty awesome crew. As one of my staff said, “You roll pretty deep.” (Laughter.) I’m like, well, yeah, we have a few good friends. We have with us today Ted Allen, La La Anthony, Connie Britton, Andy Cohen — yeah, Andy Cohen is here — (laughter) — Carla Hall, Coach Jim Harbaugh and his beautiful wife, who’s a lot better looking than him — (laughter) — Lana Parrilla, my buddy Jay Pharoah, Kelly Rowland, Usher —

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Woo!

MRS. OBAMA: Keep it down. (Laughter.) Keep it together, ladies. Wale is here. And of course, Allison Williams and her mom are here.

And all these folks are here because they’re using their star power to inspire our young people. And I’m so grateful to all of you for stepping up in so many ways on so many occasions. I feel like I’ve pestered you over these years, asking time and time again, “Well, where are you going to be?” “I’m going to be in New York.” “Can you come? Can you come here? Can you do this? Can you take that? Can you ask for that? Can you come? Can we rap? Can we sing?” (Laughter.) So thank you all so much. It really means the world to this initiative to have such powerful, respected and admired individuals speaking on behalf of this issue. So congratulations on the work that you’ve done, and we’re going to keep working.

And today, I especially want to recognize all these — extraordinary leadership team that was behind Reach Higher from day one. And this isn’t on the script so they don’t know this. I want to take time to personally acknowledge a couple of people. Executive Director Eric Waldo. (Applause.) Where is Eric? He’s in the — you’ve got to step out. (Applause.) Eric is acting like he’s a ham, but he likes the spotlight. (Laughter.) He’s acting a little shy. I want to recognize our Deputy Director, Stephanie Sprow. Stephanie. (Applause.) And he’s really not going to like this because he tries to pretend like he doesn’t exist at all, but our Senior Advisor, Greg Darnieder. (Applause.) There you go. Greg has been a leader in education his entire life. I’ve known him since I was a little organizer person. And it’s just been just a joy to work with you all. These individuals, they are brilliant. They are creative. They have worked miracles with hardly any staff or budget to speak of — which is how we roll in the First Lady’s Office. (Laughter.) And I am so proud and so, so grateful to you all for everything that you’ve done. So let’s give them a round of applause. (Applause.)

And finally, I want to recognize all of you who are here in this audience. We have our educators, our leaders, our young people who have been with us since we launched Reach Higher back in 2014. Now, when we first came up with this idea, we had one clear goal in mind: We wanted to make higher education cool. We wanted to change the conversation around what it means and what it takes to be a success in this country. Because let’s be honest, if we’re always shining the spotlight on professional athletes or recording artists or Hollywood celebrities, if those are the only achievements we celebrate, then why would we ever think kids would see college as a priority?

So we decided to flip the script and shine a big, bright spotlight on all things educational. For example, we made College Signing Day a national event. We wanted to mimic all the drama and excitement traditionally reserved for those few amazing football and basketball players choosing their college and university teams. We wanted to focus that same level of energy and attention on kids going to college because of their academic achievements. Because as a nation, that’s where the spotlight should also be — on kids who work hard in school and do the right thing when no one is watching, many beating daunting odds.

Next, we launched Better Make Room. It’s a social media campaign to give young people the support and inspiration they need to actually complete higher education. And to really drive that message home, you may recall that I debuted my music career — (laughter) — rapping with Jay about getting some knowledge by going to college. (Laughter and applause.)

We are also very proud of all that this administration has done to make higher education more affordable. We doubled investments in Pell grants and college tax credits. We expanded income-based loan repayment options for tens of millions of students. We made it easier to apply for financial aid. We created a College Scorecard to help students make good decisions about higher education. And we provided new funding and support for school counselors. (Applause.) Altogether, we made in this administration the largest investment in higher education since the G.I. Bill. (Applause.) And today, the high school graduation rate is at a record high, and more young people than ever before are going to college.

And we know that school counselors like all of the folks standing with me on this stage have played a critical role in helping us get there. In fact, a recent study showed that students who met with a school counselor to talk about financial aid or college were three times more likely to attend college, and they were nearly seven times more likely to apply for financial aid.

So our school counselors are truly among the heroes of the Reach Higher story. And that’s why we created this event two years ago, because we thought that they should finally get some recognition. (Applause.) We wanted everyone to know about the difference that these phenomenal men and women have been making in the lives of our young people every day. And our 2017 School Counselor of the Year, Terri Tchorzynski, is a perfect example.

As you heard, Terri works at the Calhoun Area Career Center, a career and technical education school in Michigan. And here’s what Terri’s principal said about her in his letter of recommendation. He said, “Once she identifies a systemic need, she works tirelessly to address it.”

So when students at Terri’s school reported feeling unprepared to apply for higher education, Terri sprang into action to create a school-wide, top-to-bottom college-readiness effort. Under Terri’s leadership, more students than ever before attended workshops on resume writing, FAFSA completion — yes, I can now say FAFSA — (laughter) — and interview preparation. I can barely say it. (Laughter.) They did career and personal — personality assessments. They helped plan a special college week. And they organized a Military Day, hosting recruiters from all branches of our armed forces. And because of these efforts, today, 75 percent of Calhoun’s seniors now complete key college application steps, and Terri’s school has won state and national recognition.

And all of this is just one small part of what Terri does for her students each day. I can go on and on about all the time she spends one-on-one with students, helping them figure out their life path. Terri told us — as you heard, she told us about one of those students, so we reached out to Kyra. And here’s what Kyra had to say in her own words. Kyra wrote that “Mrs. Tchorzynski has helped me grow to love myself. She helped me with my doubts and insecurities.” She said, my life has changed “for the better in all aspects.” Kyra said, “She held my hand through my hardest times.” She said, “Mrs. Tchorzynski is my lifesaver.” That’s what Kyra said. (Laughter.)

And this is what each of you do every single day. You see the promise in each of your students. You believe in them even when they can’t believe in themselves, and you work tirelessly to help them be who they were truly meant to be. And you do it all in the face of some overwhelming challenges — tight budgets, impossible student- counselor ratios — yeah, amen — (laughter) — endless demands on your time.

You all come in early, you stay late. You reach into your own pockets — and see, we’ve got the amen corner. (Laughter.) You stick with students in their darkest moments, when they’re most anxious and afraid. And if anyone is dealing with a college [high school] senior or junior, you know what this feels like. These men and women show them that those kids matter; that they have something to offer; that no matter where they’re from or how much money their parents have, no matter what they look like or who they love or how they worship or what language they speak at home, they have a place in this country.

And as I end my time in the White House, I can think of no better message to send our young people in my last official remarks as First Lady. So for all the young people in this room and those who are watching, know that this country belongs to you — to all of you, from every background and walk of life. If you or your parents are immigrants, know that you are part of a proud American tradition — the infusion of new cultures, talents and ideas, generation after generation, that has made us the greatest country on earth.

If your family doesn’t have much money, I want you to remember that in this country, plenty of folks, including me and my husband — we started out with very little. But with a lot of hard work and a good education, anything is possible — even becoming President. That’s what the American Dream is all about. (Applause.)

If you are a person of faith, know that religious diversity is a great American tradition, too. In fact, that’s why people first came to this country — to worship freely. And whether you are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh — these religions are teaching our young people about justice, and compassion, and honesty. So I want our young people to continue to learn and practice those values with pride. You see, our glorious diversity — our diversities of faiths and colors and creeds — that is not a threat to who we are, it makes us who we are. (Applause.) So the young people here and the young people out there: Do not ever let anyone make you feel like you don’t matter, or like you don’t have a place in our American story — because you do. And you have a right to be exactly who you are. But I also want to be very clear: This right isn’t just handed to you. No, this right has to be earned every single day. You cannot take your freedoms for granted. Just like generations who have come before you, you have to do your part to preserve and protect those freedoms. And that starts right now, when you’re young.

Right now, you need to be preparing yourself to add your voice to our national conversation. You need to prepare yourself to be informed and engaged as a citizen, to serve and to lead, to stand up for our proud American values and to honor them in your daily lives. And that means getting the best education possible so you can think critically, so you can express yourself clearly, so you can get a good job and support yourself and your family, so you can be a positive force in your communities.

And when you encounter obstacles — because I guarantee you, you will, and many of you already have — when you are struggling and you start thinking about giving up, I want you to remember something that my husband and I have talked about since we first started this journey nearly a decade ago, something that has carried us through every moment in this White House and every moment of our lives, and that is the power of hope — the belief that something better is always possible if you’re willing to work for it and fight for it.

It is our fundamental belief in the power of hope that has allowed us to rise above the voices of doubt and division, of anger and fear that we have faced in our own lives and in the life of this country. Our hope that if we work hard enough and believe in ourselves, then we can be whatever we dream, regardless of the limitations that others may place on us. The hope that when people see us for who we truly are, maybe, just maybe they, too, will be inspired to rise to their best possible selves.

That is the hope of students like Kyra who fight to discover their gifts and share them with the world. It’s the hope of school counselors like Terri and all these folks up here who guide those students every step of the way, refusing to give up on even a single young person. Shoot, it’s the hope of my — folks like my dad who got up every day to do his job at the city water plant; the hope that one day, his kids would go to college and have opportunities he never dreamed of.

That’s the kind of hope that every single one of us — politicians, parents, preachers — all of us need to be providing for our young people. Because that is what moves this country forward every single day — our hope for the future and the hard work that hope inspires.

So that’s my final message to young people as First Lady. It is simple. (Applause.) I want our young people to know that they matter, that they belong. So don’t be afraid — you hear me, young people? Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered. Empower yourselves with a good education, then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise. Lead by example with hope, never fear. And know that I will be with you, rooting for you and working to support you for the rest of my life.

And that is true I know for every person who are here — is here today, and for educators and advocates all across this nation who get up every day and work their hearts out to lift up our young people. And I am so grateful to all of you for your passion and your dedication and all the hard work on behalf of our next generation. And I can think of no better way to end my time as First Lady than celebrating with all of you.

So I want to close today by simply saying thank you. Thank you for everything you do for our kids and for our country. Being your First Lady has been the greatest honor of my life, and I hope I’ve made you proud.

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Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 November 3, 2016: Melania Trump’s speech in Berwyn, Pennsylvania focusing on her plans as first lady

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:

Melania Trump Rally in Berwyn, Pennsylvania

Melania Trump’s Campaign Speech Addressing Cyberbullying

Source: Time, 11-3-16

TRUMP: Thank you first lady of Indiana, Karen Pence. Thank you, that was very nice.

AUDIENCE: I love you! (APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: We love you!

TRUMP: We love you, too.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: What a wonderful welcome, here in Pennsylvania. It has been move than 500 days since my husband, Donald Trump, announced he would run for president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

I remember that day in June, 2015 vividly, surrounded by our family and speaking to an audience of millions, Donald Trump is to campaign on behalf of those who feel the system is broken and does not work for them. Those who just want a fair shape (ph) and opportunity for a better education, a better paying job, a better future.

(APPLAUSE)

He pledges to restore integrity for Washington, and respect for America abroad. This is not an ordinary campaign, it is a movement.

(APPLAUSE)

A movement in which people still (ph) included, inspired and involved. I have seen it firsthand, we are deeply grateful to the millions of American who believe in my husband, because they know he believes in you.

(APPLAUSE)

He believe in America and he will make a fantastic president of these United States.

(APPLAUSE)

I come here today to talk about my husband, Donald, and his deep love and respect for this country, and all of its people. I have come here to talk about this man I have known for 18 years. And I have come here today, to talk about our partnership, our family, and what I know for sure in my heart about this man, who will make America great again.

(APPLAUSE)

I know exactly what that means. I grew up in a small town in Slovenia near a beautiful river and forest. Slovenia is a small country that back then, was under communist rule. It was a beautiful childhood, my parents were wonderful. Of course, we always knew about the incredible place called America. America was the word for freedom and opportunity. America meant if you could dream it, you could become it.

(APPLAUSE)

But I was 10 years old. We learned of a man Ronald Reagan was elected president of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

Before, we would watch (ph) what he was saying and doing. President Reagan’s Morning in America was not just something in the United States. It began to feel like morning around the world, even in my small country. It was a true inspiration to me. Later, I lived in Milan and Paris, working hard as a fashion model. I worked with people from all over the world. Fashion is a business of glamour, but it is also hard work. There are ups and downs, high highs, and ridicule, and rejection too.

I loved my work, and as a young entrepreneur, I wanted to follow my dream to a place where freedom and opportunity were in abundance. So of course, I came here. Living and working in America was a true blessing, but I wanted something more. I wanted to be an American. After a 10 year process, which included many visas and a green card, in 2006, I studied for the test and became a U.S. citizen.

(APPLAUSE)

It is the greatest privilege – it is the greatest privilege in the world. I’m an immigrant, and let me tell you, no one values the freedom and opportunity of America more than me, both as an independent woman, and as someone who immigrated to America.

(APPLAUSE)

Love for this country is something we need immediately shared with when I met Donald. He loves this country, and he knows how to get things done, not just talk. He certainly knows how to shake things up, doesn’t he?

(APPLAUSE)

He knows how to make real change. Make America great again, is not just some slogan. Is it what has been in his heart since the day I met him. Over the years of our marriage, I have watched my husband grow more and more concerned, as he sees American workers suffer. I have watched him get frustrated as he sees parents struggle to care for children while working outside the home. I have watched him as he sees over and over again policies that make our country less strong, less secure, and less safe.

Every time my husband learned of a factory closing in Ohio, or North Carolina, or here in Pennsylvania, I saw him get very upset. He could see what was happening, he saw the problems. And he always talked about how he could fix them.

My family is truly blessed. The most important thing we have in our family is health, and love, and loyalty. Donald has built…

(APPLAUSE)

Donald has built a very successful company. The privilege to go to work each day to do a job that he loves along side of his adult children. This is a great blessing for any parent.

He had a great and fulfilling life. But Donald knew he could not sit by any more and watch what was happening in our country. And that is when this campaign, this movement, begun.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Trump, Trump, Trump

TRUMP: As Donald travel the country, he has asked some simple but very important questions. What kind of country do we want?

Do we want a country that is safe with secure borders? Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

Do we want a country where every American gets fair shot? Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

Do we want a country that honors our constitution?

(APPLAUSE)

Do we want a country that honors life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

(APPLAUSE)

Do we want a country that respects women and provides them with equal opportunities?

(APPLAUSE)

Do we want a country where every child has access to a good education?

(APPLAUSE)

Do we want our children to be safe and secure and dream big dreams?

(APPLAUSE)

Do we want president who is beholden to no one but you, the American people?

(APPLAUSE)

Yes. Do we want a president who is a fighter for us and will never give up? Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

Then we want Donald Trump to be our president.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Trump, Trump, Trump

TRUMP: People have asked me if Donald sees the president – what kind of first lady will you be? It will be my honor and privilege to serve this country.

(APPLAUSE)

I will be an advocate for women and for children. Let me…

(APPLUASE)

Let me tell you a little bit more about what that means to me. I’m a full time mother to our son Barron, an incredible boy.

(LAUGHTER)

As his father travels around the country running for president, I’m with our son. We talk a little bit about politics, and a lot about life, homework, and sports.

(LAUGHTER)

Barron has many privileges and advantages. We know how fortunate we are.

Still, I have the same conversations with my son that many of you have with your sons and daughters, and nieces and nephews, grandchildren and godchildren.

I want my little boy to know that he is blessed to have been born in a country that values individual freedom and constitutional democracy. I want our children in this country and all around the world to live a beautiful life, to be safe and secure, to dream freely of love and a family of their own some day.

We need to teach our youth American values; kindness, honesty, respect, compassion, charity, understanding, cooperation. I do worry about all of our children. As we know, now social media is a centerpiece of our lives. It can be a useful tool for connection and communication. It can ease the isolation that so many people feel in the modern world.

Technology has changed our universe. But like anything that is powerful, it can have a bad side. We have seen these already. As adults, many of us are able to handle mean words, even lies. Children and teenagers can be fragile. They are hurt when they are made fun of or made to feel less in looks or intelligence. This makes their life hard and can force them to hide and retreat. Our culture has gotten too mean and too rough, especially to children and teenagers. It is never OK when a 12 year old girl or boy is mocked, bullied, or attacked. It is terrible when that happens on the playground.

And it is absolutely unacceptable when it is done by someone with no name hiding on the internet.

(APPLAUSE)

We have to find a better way to talk to each other, to disagree with each other, to respect each other. We must find better ways to honor and support the basic goodness of our children, especially in social media.

It will be one of the main focuses of my work if I’m privileged enough to become your First Lady.

(APPLAUSE)

 

 

Full Text Obama Presidency June 9, 2015: First Lady Michelle Obama’s at Martin Luther King Jr. Preparatory High School Commencement Address Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the First Lady at Martin Luther King Jr. Preparatory High School Commencement Address

Source: WH, 6-9-15

Chicago State University Convocation Hall

Chicago, Illinois

7:44 P.M. CDT

MRS. OBAMA:  Wow!  (Applause.)  Yes!

STUDENT:  We love you so much, Michelle!

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, I love you guys!  (Applause.)  Look, I am beyond excited to be here with the winners of our first-ever FAFSA Video Challenge, the King College Prep Class of 2015!  (Applause.)

So let me just explain, because you all know some of the best schools in the country submitted videos for this challenge.  But when I saw your Scandal video, let me tell you, I was blown away.  I was just blown away with — amazing.  I was blown away by your creativity, but I was even more blown away by how hard you all worked to achieve your outstanding FAFSA completion rate here at KCP.  In fact, as you saw, I was so impressed that I decided to send your video to the cast of the real Scandal.  And they were so impressed that Shonda* Rhimes and Kerry Washington and the whole staff, they wanted to be a part of this graduation.  And I want to thank Libby, because she was the only one who knew.  She kept the secret.  So let’s give the cast of Scandal another round of applause.  Wasn’t that wonderful?  (Applause.)  That’s how special you all are.  That is just how special you all are.

And I want to thank Libby for that wonderful introduction.  I want to thank Jostens for their generosity.  And, of course, I want to honor the Pendleton family for their courage and their grace and their love.  I love these folks.  (Applause.)  Hadiya’s memory is truly a blessing and an inspiration to me and to my husband and to people across this country and around the world.  And we are so grateful for her family’s presence here tonight.  Love you all.  Love you so much.  (Applause.)

I also want to acknowledge President Watson, Provost Henderson, Jesse Ruiz, as well as the fabulous singers — way to go, guys!  (Applause.)  And our musicians, the best band in the land.  (Applause.)  And all of the amazing student speakers — you guys did such a phenomenal job.  You’re amazing.  (Applause.)

And of course, I want to give a big shoutout to Principal Narain for his outstanding leadership.  Yes.  (Applause.)  He made sure my speech was up here, so I thank him for that.  (Laughter.)  But also, to the phenomenal teachers, the administrators, the school counselors, the staff who pushed you, who inspired you, who hunted you down in the hallway to fill out your FAFSA forms — well done.  (Laughter and applause.)

And, graduates, I think we’ve got to give another show of love to the parents, the guardians, the grandparents, the aunts, the uncles, the siblings — (applause) — everyone else who has been there for you throughout your lives — the folks who shook you out of bed in the morning, and didn’t let you go to sleep until your homework was done; the folks who believed in you; the folks who sacrificed for you and loved you even when you drove them crazy.  Today is their day too.  Let’s give them a round of applause.  (Applause.)  Yes!  That’s it, blow kisses.  That’s right, mom.  Take your bow.

And of course, most of all, to the class of 2015 — you all, congratulations.  You did it!  You did it!  You are here!  You are here!   (Applause.)  And you all look so good, so glamorous, so handsome.  But just think about how hard you worked to make it to this day — stayed up late studying, working on those college essays, preparing for those ACTs.  I understand that you threw yourselves into your activities as well — the Jaguars won the Division 3A basketball regional championship.  (Applause.)  Pretty nice.  The best band in the land performed with Jennifer Hudson — really?  Jennifer Hudson?  J-Hud? — and at the NFL Draft.  (Applause.)  I hear you all lit up the stage with Shrek the Musical — (applause) — Spring Concert I heard was pretty nice.  But you all truly honored Dr. King’s legacy with your commitment to service-learning.

So, graduates, tonight, I am feeling so proud of you.  I am feeling so excited for you.  I am feeling so inspired by you.  But there is one thing that I’m not feeling right now, and that is surprised.  I am not at all surprised by how accomplished you all are.  (Applause.)  I’m not at all surprised by the dedication your teachers have shown, or by the sacrifices your families have made to carry you to this day.  I’m not surprised because I know this community.

I was born and raised here on the South Side, in South Shore, and I am who I am today because of this community.  (Applause.)  I know the struggles many of you face — how you walk the long way home to avoid the gangs.  How you fight to concentrate on your homework when there’s too much noise at home.  How you keep it together when your families are having hard times making ends meet.

But more importantly, I also know the strengths of this community.  I know the families on the South Side.  And while they may come in all different shapes and sizes, most families here are tight, bound together by the kind of love that gets stronger when it’s tested.

I know that folks on the South Side work hard — the kind of hard where you forget about yourself and you just worry about your kids, doing everything it takes — juggling two and three jobs, taking long bus rides to the night shift, scraping pennies together to sign those kids up for every activity you can afford — Park District program, the Praise Dance Ministries — whatever it takes to keep them safe and on the right track.  And I know that in this community, folks have a deep faith, a powerful faith, and folks are there for each other when times get hard, because we understand that “there but for the grace of God go I.”  (Applause.)

And over the past six years as First Lady, I’ve visited communities just like this one all across this country — communities that face plenty of challenges and crises, but where folks have that same strong work ethic, those same good values, those same big dreams for their kids.

But unfortunately, all those positive things hardly ever make the evening news.  Instead, the places where we’ve grown up only make headlines when something tragic happens — when someone gets shot, when the dropout rate climbs, when some new drug is ruining people’s lives.

So too often, we hear a skewed story about our communities — a narrative that says that a stable, hardworking family in a neighborhood like Woodlawn or Chatham or Bronzeville is somehow remarkable; that a young person who graduates from high school and goes to college is a beat-the-odds kind of hero.

Look, I can’t tell you how many times people have met my mother and asked her, “Well, how on Earth did you ever raise kids like Michelle and Craig in a place like South Shore?”  And my mom looks at these folks like they’re crazy, and she says, “Michelle and Craig are nothing special.  There are millions of Craigs and Michelles out there.  And I did the same thing that all those other parents did.”  She says, “I loved them.  I believed in them.  And I didn’t take any nonsense from them.”  (Applause.)

And I’m here tonight because I want people across this country to know that story — the real story of the South Side.  The story of that quiet majority of good folks — families like mine and young people like all of you who face real challenges but make good choices every single day.  (Applause.)  I’m here tonight because I want you all to know, graduates, that with your roots in this community and your education from this school, you have everything — you hear me, everything — you need to succeed.  (Applause.)

And I’m here tonight because I want to share with you just two fundamental lessons that I’ve learned in my own life, lessons grounded in the courage, love and faith that define this community and that I continue to live by to this day.

Now, the first lesson is very simple, and that is, don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.  And I cannot stress that enough.  During your four years here at King College Prep, you all were surrounded by folks who were determined to help you, as Jade said — teachers who stayed after class to explain an assignment, counselors who pushed you to apply to college, coaches who saw something special in you that no one had seen before.

And as you head to college or the military, or whatever else comes next, you will face plenty of obstacles.  There will be times when you find yourself struggling.  And at first, you might not know where to turn to for help.  Or maybe you might be too embarrassed to ask.  And trust me, I know how that feels.

See, when I started my freshman year at Princeton, I felt totally overwhelmed and out of place.  I had never spent any meaningful time on a college campus.  I had never been away from home for an extended period of time.  I had no idea how to choose my classes, to — how to take notes in a large lecture.  And then I looked around at my classmates, and they all seemed so happy and comfortable and confident.  They never seemed to question whether they belonged at a school like Princeton.

So at first, I didn’t tell a soul how anxious and lonely and insecure I was feeling.  But as I got to know my classmates, I realized something important.  I realized that they were all struggling with something, but instead of hiding their struggles and trying to deal with them all alone, they reached out.  They asked for help.  If they didn’t understand something in class, they would raise their hand and ask a question, then they’d go to professor’s office hours and ask even more questions.  And they were never embarrassed about it, not one bit.  Because they knew that that’s how you succeed in life.

See, growing up, they had the expectation that they would succeed, and that they would have the resources they needed to achieve their goals.  So whether it was taking an SAT-prep class, getting a math tutor, seeking advice from a teacher or counselor — they took advantage of every opportunity they had.

So I decided to follow their lead.  I found an advisor who helped me choose my classes.  I went to the multicultural student center and met older students who became my mentor.  And soon enough, I felt like I had this college thing all figured out.  And, graduates, wherever you are headed, I guarantee you that there will be all kinds of folks who are eager to help you, but they are not going to come knocking on your door to find you.  You have to take responsibility to find them.  (Applause.)

So if you are struggling with an assignment, go to a tutoring session.  If you’re having trouble with a paper, get yourself to the writing center.  And if someone isn’t helpful, if they are impatient or unfriendly, then just find somebody else.  You may have to go to a second, or third, or a fourth person but if you keep asking.  (Applause.)  And if you understand that getting help isn’t a sign of weakness but a sign of strength, then I guarantee you that you will get what you need to succeed.

And that brings me to the other big lesson that I want to share with you today.  It’s a lesson about how to get through those struggles, and that is, instead of letting your hardships and failures discourage or exhaust you, let them inspire you.  Let them make you even hungrier to succeed.

Now, I know that many of you have already dealt with some serious losses in your lives.  Maybe someone in your family lost a job or struggled with drugs or alcohol or an illness.  Maybe you’ve lost someone you love, someone you desperately wish could be here with you tonight.  And I know that many of you are thinking about Hadiya right now and feeling the hole that she’s left in your hearts.

So, yes, maybe you’ve been tested a lot more and a lot earlier in life than many other young people.  Maybe you have more scars than they do.  Maybe you have days when you feel more tired than someone your age should ever really feel.  But, graduates, tonight, I want you to understand that every scar that you have is a reminder not just that you got hurt, but that you survived.  (Applause.)  And as painful as they are, those holes we all have in our hearts are what truly connect us to each other.  They are the spaces we can make for other people’s sorrow and pain, as well as their joy and their love so that eventually, instead of feeling empty, our hearts feel even bigger and fuller.

So it’s okay to feel the sadness and the grief that comes with those losses.  But instead of letting those feelings defeat you, let them motivate you.  Let them serve as fuel for your journey.  See, that’s what folks in this community have always done.  Just look at our history.

Take the story of Lorraine Hansberry, who grew up right here on the South Side.  Lorraine was determined to be a playwright, but she struggled to raise the money to produce her first play.  But Lorraine stayed hungry.  And eventually, that play — “A Raisin in the Sun” — became the first play by an African American woman to make it to Broadway.  (Applause.)

And how about Richard Wright, who spent his young adult years on the South Side.  Richard’s father was a sharecropper who abandoned his family.  And while Richard loved to read, the local library wouldn’t let him check out books because he was black.  So Richard went ahead and wrote books of his own — books like “Native Son,” and “Black Boy,” that made him one of the greatest writers in American history.  (Applause.)

And finally, tonight, I’m thinking about my own parents — yes, Marian and Frazier Robinson.  See, neither of them went to college.  They never had much money.  But they were determined to see me and my brother get the best education possible.  So my mom served on the PTA, and she volunteered at school so she could keep an eye on us.

As for my Dad, he worked as a pump operator at the city water plant.  And even after he was diagnosed with MS in his thirties, and it became harder for him to walk and get dressed, he still managed to pull himself out of bed every morning, no matter how sick he felt.  Every day, without fail, I watched my father struggle on crutches to slowly make his way across our apartment, out the door to work, without complaint or self-pity or regret.  (Applause.)

Now, my Dad didn’t live to see me in the White House.  He passed away from complications from his illness when I was in my twenties.  And, graduates, let me tell you, he is the hole in my heart.  His loss is my scar.  But let me tell you something, his memory drives me forward every single day of my life.  (Applause.)  Every day, I work to make him proud.  Every day, I stay hungry, not just for myself, but for him and for my mom and for all the kids I grew up with who never had the opportunities that my family provided for me.

And, graduates, today, I want to urge you all to do the same thing.  There are so many folks in your school and in your families who believe in you, who have sacrificed for you, who have poured all of their love and hope and ambition into you.  And you need to stay hungry for them.  (Applause.)

There are so many young people who can only dream of the opportunities you’ve had at King College Prep — young people in troubled parts of the world who never set foot in a classroom.  Young people in this community who don’t have anyone to support them.  Young people like Hadiya, who were taken from us too soon and can never become who they were meant to be.  You need to stay hungry for them.

And, graduates, look, I know you can do this.  See, because if Lorraine Hansberry and Richard Wright could stay hungry through their hardships and humiliations; if Dr. Martin Luther King, the namesake of your school, could sacrifice his life for our country, then I know you can show up for a tutoring session.  I know you can go to some office hours.  (Applause.)

If Hadiya’s friends and family could survive the heartbreak and pain; if they could found organizations to honor her unfulfilled dreams; if they could inspire folks across this country to wear orange in to protest gun violence — then I know you all can live your life with the same determination and joy that Hadiya lived her life.  I know you all can dig deep and keep on fighting to fulfill your own dreams.

Because, graduates, in the end, you all are the ones responsible for changing the narrative about our communities.  (Applause.)  Wherever you go next, wherever you go, you all encounter people who doubt your very existence — folks who believe that hardworking families with strong values don’t exist on the South Side of Chicago, or in Detroit, or in El Paso, or in Indian Country, or in Appalachia.  They don’t believe you are real.

And with every word you speak, with every choice you make, with the way you carry yourself each day, you are rewriting the story of our communities.  And that’s a burden that President Obama and I proudly carry every single day in the White House.  (Applause.)  Because we know that everything we do and say can either confirm the myths about folks like us, or it can change those myths.  (Applause.)

So, graduates, today, I want you all to join our team as we fight to get out the truth about our communities — about our inner cities and our farm towns, our barrios, our reservations.  You need to help us tell our story — the story of Lorraine Hansberry and Richard Wright, the story of my family and your families, the story of our sacrifice, our hunger, our hard work.

Graduates, starting today, it is your job to make sure that no one ever again is surprised by who we are and where we come from.  (Applause.)  And you know how I know you can do this?  Because you all — graduates of the King College Prep High School.  You all are from so many proud communities — North Kenwood, Chatham, South Shore, Woodlawn, Hyde Park -– I could go on and on.  You embody all of the courage and love, all of the hunger and hope that have always defined these communities –- our communities.

And I am so proud of you all.  And I stay inspired because of you.  And I cannot wait to see everything you all continue achieve in the years ahead.

So thank you.  God bless you.  I love you all.  Congratulations.  (Applause.)

END                  8:08 P.M. CDT

Political Headlines December 4, 2013: First Lady Michelle Obama Previews the 2013 White House Holiday Decorations

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

First Lady Michelle Obama Previews the 2013 White House Holiday Decor

Source: WH, 12-4-13

First Lady Michelle Obama and children of military families participate in a craft project in the State Dining Room during the White House holiday press preview, Dec. 4, 2013. Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses helps children decorate Springerle cookie ornFirst Lady Michelle Obama and children of military families participate in a craft project in the State Dining Room during the White House holiday press preview, Dec. 4, 2013. Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses helps children decorate Springerle cookie ornaments. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Today, First Lady Michelle Obama previewed the 2013 White House holiday décor to a crowd of military families who were the first of more than 70,000 anticipated visitors this holiday season. Mrs. Obama announced this year’s theme, Gather Around: Stories of the Season, a celebration of the stories and traditions that bring us together this special time of year. “Our goal is for every room and every tree to tell a story about who we are and how we gather around one another to mark the holidays,” she said. The custom of selecting an official holiday theme began in the 1960s when First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy created a nutcracker-themed Christmas for her daughter Caroline….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency December 4, 2013: First Lady Michelle Obama’s Remarks at 2013 Christmas Holiday Press Preview

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the First Lady at 2013 Holiday Press Preview

Source: WH, 12-4-13

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

First lady Michelle Obama spoke to military families in front of the White House Christmas tree on Wednesday.

East Room
1:32 P.M. EST
MRS. OBAMA:  Well, hello, everyone.  You guys look great — I’m talking about the front row.  (Laughter.)  You guys look okay, too.  Well, I am thrilled to welcome you all here to the White House.  Are you excited?
CHILDREN:  Yes!
MRS. OBAMA:  Why are you excited?  (Laughter.)  Because it’s Christmas?  Because you’re going to get presents soon?  Because there may be treats somewhere?  Yes, a few heads nodding.  Well, we’re excited to have you guys here with us today.
I want to start by thanking Diane and her amazing family for all that they’ve done for this country and for that eloquent introduction, and for being one of the many fabulous volunteers who helped make this White House so beautiful.  In fact, Diane told me that she got to work in this room, so we can personally thank her for this beautiful — these beautiful decorations.  Diane, we’re just so grateful to you.  And I want you all to know a little bit about Diane — that in addition to the long hours that she put in this week, on top of all of that, she has spent countless hours volunteering regularly in her community through her church, through the Red Cross.
So volunteering is no stranger — or Diane is no stranger to volunteering.  In fact, Diane isn’t alone in the contributions she’s making — in fact, I believe she embodies the spirit that we see in military families –- families like all of yours all across this country, particularly during the holiday season.  You all are serving our nation.  You all are volunteering in your communities every day.  And you’re also taking care of business at home with your own families.
And during this holiday season, as we gather with our loved ones, I’d ask every American to remember what our military families and servicemembers often experience during this time of year.  Let us all remember the sacrifices they make to proudly serve all of us.
For example, I’m thinking today about the thousands of men and women in uniform serving abroad who wake up in the middle of the night in some remote part of the world to read a special holiday story to their children over Skype, or to be there on the screen to experience that special moment of joy when their kids open those presents from Santa.
And then there are the military families who spend hours painstakingly filling holiday care packages for their loved ones in uniform –- sending them miniature Christmas trees, making holiday cookies, creating special homemade cards, doing their best to help them experience the magic of the holidays wherever they may be.
And let us remember that many military families are assigned to bases that are far from their extended families, so they aren’t always able to make it home to see grandma and grandpa.  And as a consequence, they have to find new ways to make the season bright.  So they reach out, and they band together with other families, and they create their own special military family celebrations and traditions.  And that’s what I’ve learned that military families do.
No matter what challenges you all face –- during the holidays or any other time during the year — you all just dig a little deeper.  I say this time and time again.  You just get creative and you find ways to make it work, and you do it with such strength and humor and grace.  And on top of all of that, somehow, like Diane, so many of you still manage to find time over the holidays and throughout the year to give back to your communities, once again digging deep and going above and beyond.
In fact, a recent survey shows that 81 percent of military family members reported volunteering in the past year, and that’s compared to just 27 percent of the general public.  So you guys really make us all look bad.  (Laughter.)  But in short, your sacrifice and your service to this country, your families’ stories are such an important part of our great American story — stories that remind us of the true meaning of the holiday season.
And that actually brings me to this year’s official White House holiday theme, which is “Gather Around: Stories of the Season.”  This holiday season, we’ll be focusing on the stories behind classic American holiday traditions — traditions celebrated here at the White House and across the country.  Our goal is for every room and every tree to tell a story about who we are and how we gather around one another to mark the holidays.
And that starts with all of you — literally.  In fact, when visitors arrive, the very first thing they’ll see is a tree decorated to pay tribute to our Armed Forces.  This tree, graced with special Gold Star ornaments, tells the story of some of our greatest heroes:  Those who gave their lives for our country.  And any Gold Star family who visits the White House can create their own ornament to honor their loved one.  In addition, everyone who visits this White House this year gets a chance to fill out an Operation Honor Card pledging to serve their community in honor of our military families, your servicemembers, your veterans, whoever you choose, just find a way to serve.
We also have an entire room — it’s right next door, it’s the Blue Room, one of my favorite rooms — dedicated to the idea of gathering around our military.  The tree in that room is decorated with holiday greeting cards drawn by military children from bases all across the country as a way to celebrate their parents’ service.  And they’re beautiful, they’re really sweet cards.
So that’s how we’ll be honoring our veterans and servicemembers and their families this holiday season.  And I would ask during this time that every American find a way to honor these great Americans, not just during the holidays, but every day.  And let us never forget the debt that we owe these men and women and their amazing families.
As for the rest of the house, because there is more, we have a number of special touches that build on our “Gather Around: Stories of the Season” theme.  In the East Garden Room, you’ll see Christmas trees made entirely of stacks of books.  You may have seen those coming in, they’re very cool.  In the Cross Hall, you’ll see trees reflecting the idea of gathering around our heritage.  They’ll be decorated with ornaments representing great American sites like the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore, and there’s some silhouettes of people you might know today in history, so you guys will look and see if you recognize anyone.
And of course, we have our usual first dog display.  This year, Bo will be joined by his little sister Sunny, our new pup, and the two of them will be surrounded by books.  And I was surprised to see last night, this year they actually move.  They’re mechanical.  This is a new step.  We’re stepping up in the world of Bo-and-Sunny honoring.  And these are just a few of this year’s highlights.
Although people who visit the White House will see dozens of trees and wreaths, they’re going to see thousands of ornaments and they’re going to see a gingerbread house that weighs about 300 pounds — it’s pretty big — some of the best sights they’ll see are kids enjoying all of this just wonderful glory.  Some of the best times in this White House is just watching the faces of kids as they walk through this house and count the trees and look at the ornaments.
And none of this would be possible without the 83 volunteers like Diane who came from all across the country to help us decorate, once again, sacrificing, leaving their families — because they start decorating this house the day after Thanksgiving.  It would not be possible for us to do all of this without our volunteers.  They are a pleasure to work with, they are high-energy, they are positive.  And just look around.  I mean, every year they just outdo themselves.  So we are just so grateful for their hard work and enthusiasm.
Now, over the course of this season, about 70,000 people will come to see our holiday decorations — not bad.  And I can’t imagine a better group of people than all of you to be our very first guests.  Don’t you feel special?  No one has seen these, not even the President has seen these.  (Applause.)  He hasn’t seen them yet.  You guys are the first.
And truly, it is a treat to make you all the first every season, because you all do so much for us.  And we are so proud and so honored and so grateful.  And we just want to give you a chance to bring your families in to just get a little special something just to remind you just how special we all think you are.
So I want you all to enjoy every minute in this house.  I’m going to stop right now because we’ve got a little something we’re going to do with the kids.  All the kids, you guys think you’re ready to go have some fun?
CHILDREN:  Yes!
MRS. OBAMA:  I’m going to take your kids.  (Laughter.)  And don’t worry, nothing can be broken that can’t be repaired.  I guarantee you my kids have broken it if it can be broken.  And we’re going to go and do some decorating.  Our chefs and our bakers and our florists — they’re over there — they’ve got special little things that you can make, little gifts.  You guys ready for that?
CHILD:  Yes, ma’am!
MRS. OBAMA:  Yes, ma’am!  (Laughter.)  I love that.  So why don’t you guys get up.  You guys can come and go with me.  Parents, you guys hang out.  Get some cider, some cookies, look at the ornaments.  Breathe a little bit.  They’re in good hands.  I guarantee you we will not lose them — but I can’t guarantee you they will come back clean.  (Laughter.)  That’s the only thing I can’t guarantee, so if you want pictures of them clean, do it now.  (Laughter.)
And thank you.  Have a happy holiday, from my family to all of yours.  Enjoy this holiday season.  Be safe, be happy.  And gather round together, and remember what this is all about.
You all, take care.  Love you much.  (Applause.)
END
1:43 P.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency May 8, 2013: First Lady Michelle Obama’s Speech at National Medal for Museum and Library Services Ceremony

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the First Lady at National Medal for Museum and Library Services Ceremony

Source: WH, 5-8-13 

East Room

1:49 P.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thanks so much.  Thank you, all.  How is everyone?  Good afternoon.  Please, sit.  Welcome to the White House.  I love saying that.  (Laughter.)  I am thrilled that all of you could be here today as we honor these 10 outstanding libraries and museums.

I want to start, of course, by thanking Susan — where did you go that quickly — there you go — (laughter) — for that very kind introduction, but, more importantly, for her outstanding work on behalf of our country and our nation’s museums and libraries.  As Susan told me in the back room, these are her peeps.  (Laughter.)  So she’s doing a phenomenal job.

And of course, I want to recognize our guests of honor today –- this year’s medal-winning libraries and museums.  Thank you all for your outstanding contributions to communities and to our country.  Every day, you all are pushing boundaries, defying expectations and redefining what it means to be a library and museum in this country.

You’re not just exposing our young people to science and the arts, you’re actually putting instruments and paintbrushes and computers into their hands and helping them blossom into musicians and artists and scientists themselves.  You’re not just helping kids check out books, you’re actually teaching them to read those books.

You’re tutoring our kids who have fallen behind in a grade level.  You’re teaching English as a second language.  You’re developing the next generation of lifelong learners. And I also understand that there are some of you who are even members of our Let’s Move Museums and Gardens initiative — yes, indeed.  (Applause.)  And you know that I greatly appreciate that work, everything that you all are doing to make it fun and creative for kids to develop lifelong health habits.  Thank you for that work.

So when I think about what you all do, I think it’s best summed up by a phrase in the 1920 annual report of one of today’s honorees, the Boston Children’s Museum.  The report stated that the goal of this museum is to “make better citizens.”  And more than anything else, that’s what all of you do –- you help create better citizens.

You help people across this country become more informed and engaged in our communities.  You teach our young people about our history, and you inspire them to play a role in shaping our future.  And I know this work isn’t easy — not at all.  I know that many of our libraries and museums are dealing with tight budgets and juggling more and more demands with fewer resources.

But instead of scaling back your missions, you all are expanding them.  You’re reaching out to underserved populations, taking on issues like poverty and illiteracy.  You’re partnering with schools and community organizations, finding new ways to share your resources as widely as possible.

Take the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, for example.  They ran a summer lunch program, serving 6,700 meals to hungry children.  And all of you are embracing the magnificent diversity of the communities that you serve — making sure that everyone, no matter where they’re from or what language they speak, can enjoy all that you have to offer.  And that is precisely what we try to do here at the White House.

As you know, this house, in many ways, is a museum.  And we have worked so hard to open up this place to as many of our young people as possible, doing everything from hosting workshops on poetry to having modern dance.  Yes, the Alvin Ailey dancers danced right here.  And then the curators realized that some of those leaps were threatening the chandeliers.  (Laughter.)  I don’t think they thought that through, so they were wincing as the leaps were happening.  (Laughter.)

But we’ve also hosted jazz, classical and country music workshops here for young people, because like all of you, we want our young people to know about and be proud of this nation’s rich cultural heritage.  And we want them so desperately to discover their own gifts, and to fulfill their own potential, and start thinking about their own contributions to our great American story.  And your libraries and museums are such a crucial part of that vitally important work.

And Barack and I, we are truly proud of everything you do.  And it is a real joy and an honor for us to host all of you here.  We can’t say thank you enough.  But hopefully, today is one small way to remind you that the work that you do is so critical.  It’s important.  It is valued.  And we hope you all keep doing what you do every single day.  As I tell all of our teachers and folks out there doing the hard work, please don’t get tired.  (Laughter.)  We need you.

So congratulations again on this tremendous achievement.  And now it’s my pleasure to present the medals to today’s honorees.  Thank you so much.  (Applause.)

(The awards are presented.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Let me just take the opportunity to have the triplets stand, since they are here.  Let’s give the triplets a hand.  (Applause.)  We’re proud of you guys too.  (Laughter.)  You can sit down.  (Laughter.)  You guys are such rule followers.  I love it, I love it. (Laughter.)

Well, that concludes our awards.  I hope we all leave here inspired and rededicated, because as we can see from the stories that we’ve heard that your work is really powerful, and it is impactful, and it can change lives.  You do it quietly.  You do it without much fanfare or you don’t require a lot of attention.

So hopefully, today gives you that little bit of light you need to just keep going, because this country needs you.  We need the work that you do.  And it’s just our hope that every community in this country can have the resources that you are providing to your communities.  That should be our goal.

And with that, I think now it’s time to have a little fun, as my husband always says.  We’ve got a little reception over there.  We have some nice food here at the White House.  (Laughter.)  They know how to throw a nice party.  So I encourage you to enjoy, partake, walk around, eat — have some cookies.  (Laughter.)  We’ll put Let’s Move on hold for just a couple of cookies.  (Laughter and applause.)

So enjoy your time.  You have earned it.  We are grateful.  Congratulations again.  Thank you so much.  (Applause.)

END
2:10 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency March 8, 2013: First Lady Michelle Obama’s Speech at the International Women of Courage Awards

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the First Lady at the International Women of Courage Awards

Source: WH, 3-8-13

State Department
Washington D.C.

2:57 P.M. EST

MRS. OBAMA:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you all.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Well, let me begin by thanking Under Secretary Sherman for that very kind and gracious introduction, but also for your leadership on behalf of our country.

I also want to thank Secretary Kerry for hosting us here today.  Needless to say, we are all thrilled to have you as our new Secretary of State, for no other reason than I love your wife.  You do know that.  (Applause.)  I love our Secretary, but Teresa Heinz Kerry is another woman of courage who has been just a dear friend and supporter to me for a very long time, and it is just a thrill to have you both in this role.  Congratulations, and thank you.  (Applause.)

I also want to recognize Secretary Sebelius, who can also do the dougie — (laughter) — I’ve seen it — and all of the administration officials, members of Congress and members of the diplomatic community who have joined us today.

And of course, I want to thank all of you for joining us this afternoon as we celebrate International Women’s Day.  This is the fifth time I’ve had the privilege to take part in this event, and every year, I look forward to it because it shows us what our most basic values look like when they’re put to the test.

When these women witnessed horrific crimes or the disregard for basic human rights they spoke up, risking everything they had to see that justice was done.  When they saw their communities or their countries were ignoring issues like sexual violence or women’s rights, they gave those issues a face and a voice.  And with every act of strength and defiance, with every blog post, with every community meeting, these women have inspired millions to stand with them, and find their own voices, and work together to achieve real and lasting change.

And that is truly the power of the International Women of Courage Award — that this is not simply an honor bestowed upon a few, but a call for all of us to open our eyes to the injustices around us, and to ask ourselves just what kind of courage we’ve got inside our own hearts.

And that is the lesson we can learn from the journalist who speaks out against torture and racism; from the poet who takes to Twitter to make a stand against oppression; from the mother whose son was murdered, but channeled her grief into a nationwide movement for change.  That is the spirit that we celebrate today.  And that is the potential that lies within every woman and every girl — the potential to stand up, to demand action, and to build a better world for our next generation.

And that is why we have once again invited young women from our White House Leadership and Mentoring Initiative to join us here today.  I’m going to ask them to stand, because I do like to embarrass you, yes.  (Applause.)  They are high school students from right here in the D.C. area.  And to my mentees, I just — the one message to you is to truly listen and to let these women be your guide.  Because in them, you can see that no matter who you are — and we always say this — or where you come from, if you’re willing to dig deep enough, and fight hard enough, and believe strongly enough in yourself, then you can truly change the world.  That’s why we want you to be here every year.  And the potential — absolutely.  (Applause.)

And the potential that I see in not just all of you, but all of our young women all across this world, that reminds me that the rest of us must work to lift up the women and girls in our own communities — because we know that when women and girls rise, their communities and their countries rise with them.

That is as true in Nigeria and Vietnam as it is in Honduras and Syria and right here in the United States.  We saw that just yesterday, when my husband signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.  (Applause.)

So I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to ensure that victims of domestic abuse will always know that they have somewhere to turn and someone on their side.  And in the months ahead and the years ahead, we must all do our part to build upon efforts like that one and learn from the example of the women we honor today.  Because if we tackle the injustices and challenges in our own lives with even a fraction of their strength and dedication, then I know that we can meet any challenge that comes our way.

If we encourage the young people around us to fight every single day for what they know is right, if we break down any barrier that stands in the way of a young woman getting her education or believing she can achieve her dreams, then I am confident that we will finally unlock the promise of our next generation.  And then, no matter what part of the world we call home, we will all be better off.  We will all be stronger and freer.  And we will all be more prepared not only to solve the problems we face today, but to overcome any obstacle we can imagine in the years and decades ahead.

So thank you.  Thank you all for your tremendous contributions to our world.  We are so honored and privileged and grateful.  God bless you all.  (Applause.)

And now it is my honor to turn this program over to Secretary Kerry.  (Applause.)

END
3:02 P.M. EST

Political Headlines January 17, 2013: Happy Birthday, First Lady Michelle Obama

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Happy Birthday, Michelle Obama

Source: ABC News, 1-17-13

ht michelle obama kb 130117 wblog Happy Birthday, Michelle Obama@FLOTUS/Twitter

First Lady Michelle Obama is ringing in her 50th year with a bang. She debuted a new hairdo, and fresh set of bangs, in a photo posted on her new @FLOTUS Twitter account today.

Before the inaugural festivities get underway, the Obama family celebrates another important milestone: the first lady’s birthday.

Michelle Obama turns 49 today and, if previous years are any indication, President Obama will likely take his wife out to dinner in Washington tonight….READ MORE

Political Headlines December 22, 2012: Weekly Address: President Barack Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama Wish Special Holiday Homecoming for Troops

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Weekly Address: Obamas Wish Special Holiday Homecoming for Troops

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-22-12

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

As the first holiday season with the U.S. military out of Iraq and winding down in Afghanistan, President Obama wishes a special homecoming on American troops in his weekly address.

“This weekend, parents are picking up their kids from college — and making room for all that laundry they bring with them. Children are counting down the hours until the grandparents arrive, and uncles, aunts and cousins are all making their way to join the family and share in the holiday spirit,” he said. “And this year, that’s especially true for some of our military families.”

Joined by First Lady Michelle Obama, the two waxed on Americans reuniting with their loved ones, including those coming from abroad….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency December 22, 2012: President Barack Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama’s Weekly Address Extend a Holiday Greeting and Thank our Troops for their Service

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

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

Source: WH, 12-21-12

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 JoiningForces.gov 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

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

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

Remarks of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
December 22, 2012

THE PRESIDENTHi everybody.  This weekend, as you gather with family and friends, Michelle and I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays.

THE FIRST LADY:  We both love this time of year.  And there’s nothing quite like celebrating the holidays at the White House.  It’s an incredible experience and one that we try to share with as many folks as possible.

This month, more than 90,000 people have come through the White House to see the holiday decorations.  And our theme for this year’s holiday season was “Joy to All” – a reminder to appreciate the many joys of the holidays: the joy of giving…the joy of service…and, of course, the joy of homecomings. 

THE PRESIDENTThat’s right.  This weekend, parents are picking up their kids from college – and making room for all that laundry they bring with them.  Children are counting down the hours until the grandparents arrive.  And uncles, aunts and cousins are all making their way to join the family and share in the holiday spirit.

THE FIRST LADY:  That’s what makes this season so special – getting to spend time with the people we love most.

THE PRESIDENTAnd this year, that’s especially true for some of our military families.  You see, the war in Iraq is over.  The transition in Afghanistan is underway.  After a decade of war, our heroes are coming home.  And all across America, military families are reuniting.

So this week let’s give thanks for our veterans and their families.  And let’s say a prayer for all our troops – especially those in Afghanistan – who are spending this holiday overseas, risking their lives to defend the freedoms we hold dear.

THE FIRST LADY:  And remember, when our men and women in uniform answer the call to serve, their families serve right along with them.  Across this country, military spouses have been raising their families all alone during those long deployments.  And let’s not forget about our military kids, moving from base to base – and school to school – every few years, and stepping up to help out at home when mom or dad is away.

Our military families sacrifice so much on our behalf, and Barack and I believe that we should serve them as well as they serve this country.  That’s why Dr. Jill Biden and I started Joining Forces – an effort to rally all Americans to honor and support our veterans and military families.  Just go to joiningforces.gov to find out how you can show your gratitude for their service.

THE PRESIDENT:  Because that’s what this season is all about.  For my family and millions of Americans, it’s a time to celebrate the birth of Christ. To reflect on His life and learn from His example.  Every year, we commit to love one another.  To give of ourselves.  To be our brother’s keeper.  To be our sister’s keeper.  But those ideas are not just part of our faith.  They’re part of all faiths.  And they unite us as Americans.

THE FIRST LADY:  In this country, we take care of each other.  And in this season of giving, it’s inspiring to see so many people all across America taking the time to help those most in need.

THE PRESIDENTThat’s part of what makes us such a compassionate nation.  And this year, I know many of you are extending that kindness to the families who are still picking up the pieces from Hurricane Sandy and your prayers to the people of Newtown, Connecticut.

THE FIRST LADY:  So thank you for all that you’ve done this year on behalf of your fellow Americans.

THE PRESIDENT: And on behalf of my favorite Americans – Michelle, Malia, Sasha and Bo – Merry Christmas, everybody.

THE FIRST LADY:  Happy holidays.

White House Recap February 11-17, 2012: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Presents 2013 Budget & Urges Congress Sucessfully to Pass the Payroll Tax Extension

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: February 11-17, 2012

President Obama presents his budget for the 2013 fiscal year — and explains how it will boost job creation and speed our economic recovery.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the FY 2013 Budget
President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the FY 2013 Budget, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 2/13/12

West Wing Week: 2/17/12 or “Go Big!”

Source: WH, 2-17-12
This week, the President made a major announcement on preventive care, unveiled next year’s budget, pushed Congress to extend the payroll tax cut, awarded the National Medals of Arts & Humanities, met with China’s Vice President Xi, and traveled west to Wisconsin and California and the First Lady hit the road to promote her Let’s Move! Initiative.

Weekly Wrap Up: What $40 Means

Source: WH, 2-17-12

National Medals of Arts and Humanities: Extraordinary Americans who have excelled in the arts and humanities throughout their careers—from philosophers to sculptors—joined the President and First Lady at the White House on Monday for an occasion they look forward to every year: awarding the National Medals of Arts and Humanities. The honorees’ contributions, the President noted, “[H]elp guide our growth as a people. The true power of the arts and the humanities is that you speak to everyone.”

Surprise!: As White House visitors stepped into the Blue Room on Thursday during a public tour, they were greeted by unexpected guests: the First Lady and the Obama family’s canine, Bo. Reactions ranged from shock and excitement to overwhelmed—watch the meet and greet here.

From One VP to Another: After accepting an invitation from Vice President Biden, Vice President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China spent Tuesday morning at the White House to attend a series of meetings with Administration Officials including the President. His visit to Washington, D.C. also included a meeting at the Pentagon and a U.S.-China Business Roundtable at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, among various other events.

Master Lock: The President headed from Washington, D.C. to Wisconsin on Wednesday to visit with Master Lock workers and talk about his plans to boost American manufacturing—something Master Lock is familiar with; the company has discovered that it can actually save money by keeping production facilities in the United States and bringing jobs back to America.

What $40 Means: In December of 2011, we asked Americans what $40 meant to them, and tens of thousands of Americans answered—$40 is a tank of gas, a co-pay for a doctor’s visit, a prescription medicine, a pizza night with their family. Their voice made a difference then and now—on Friday, lawmakers extended the payroll tax cut through the rest of 2012, in addition to extending critical unemployment benefits. You can watch this video to meet some of the tens of thousands of Americans who courageously shared what losing an extra $40 per paycheck would mean for them and their family.

787 Dreamliner: On Friday, the President visited the Boeing assembly facility in Everett, Washington to announce new steps to help promote American manufacturing and increase U.S. exports, following his outlining of a Blueprint for an Economy Built to Last. At that very facility, the 787 Dreamliner, the world’s most advanced commercial airplane, is assembled—nearly 8,000 people are directly employed in building it.

2013 Budget: On Monday, President Obama announced his budget for the 2013 fiscal year in Annandale, Virginia. This year’s budget reflects the President’s firm belief that our country has always done best when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same set of rules. The budget continues our commitment to keeping that promise alive by creating an economy that’s built to last—with good jobs that pay well and security for the middle class. To read the complete budget, you can download the PDF here, or get an on-the-go copy for your Nook.

Full Text February 2, 2012: First Lady Michelle Obama Talks About Being a Mentor in More Magazine Black History Month Interview

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Michelle Obama Talks About Being a Mentor

Source: WH, 2-2-12
First Lady Michelle Obama at Girls Mentoring eventFirst Lady Michelle Obama drops by the Girls Mentoring November activity in room 430 of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Nov. 29, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

February is Black History Month, and his year’s theme, “Black Women in American Culture and History,” honors African American women and the many roles they’ve played in the shaping of our nation.

And in an interview with More magazine, First Lady Michelle Obama talks candidly about one of the roles that matters most to her, one that has been a part of her life since she was in high school, one that can have a crucial influence in shaping the next generation of American women and one she urges others to embrace: Mentor.

Mrs. Obama discusses the impact mentors have had in her life, and also what being a mentor has meant to her (one of the first people she mentored as a lawyer in Chicago was a fellow graduate of Harvard Law School named Barack Obama: “I made sure that he met the partners that he was working with; I had to take him out to lunch a couple of times” she tells the magazine).

And for the first time, the First Lady discusses a program she launched shortly after moving into the White House, a mentoring program she designed “to open a secret door for others that hadn’t been opened for me,” by pairing disadvantaged girls with some of the powerful women in the land. She tells the magazine:

“I wanted [the students] to experience this notion that if you can walk [through] the doors of the White House once a month and sit down with the first lady and her chief of staff and some other senior officials, and they’re talking to you and you get used to hearing your voice in the space, then it becomes not a big deal.”

And so her program pairs teenage girls with “this wonderful array of women who come from different backgrounds,” she says. “They’re senior leaders in President Obama’s administration, and they all have a story, right? They all have a set of challenges and struggles.” Those stories, Obama believes, are best told in person, over time, creating the kind of enduring bond the social media generation sorely lacks. “Even though our children are connecting in ways we never imagined,” she told a national summit on mentoring not long ago, “you’ve got an entire generation of young people truly in desperate need of a friend. Someone they can trust, an example they can follow.”

Full Text January 25, 2012: First Lady Michelle Obama’s Remarks at U.S. Department of Agriculture’s New School Lunch Nutrition Standards Announcement at Parklawn Elementary School

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Healthy Changes on the Menu for School Lunches

Source: WH, 1-25-12

First Lady Michelle Obama has lunch with Parklawn Elementary  School students
First Lady Michelle Obama joins children for lunch at Parklawn Elementary School in Alexandria, Va., Jan. 25, 2012. Mrs. Obama was joined by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and celebrity cook Rachael Ray for a Let’s Move! event celebrating the school’s food service employees serving healthy meals that meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new and improved nutrition standards for school lunches. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today introduced new rules that mean America’s school children will soon be eating healthier lunches in the cafeteria.

The new USDA guidelines, which implement important provisions of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, substantially increase the amount of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains on the menu, while reducing saturated fat, trans fats and sodium, and set calorie limits based on the age of children being served. The standards make the same kinds of practical changes that many parents are already encouraging at home, and that are a key pillar of Let’s Move, the First Lady’s initiative that is focused on improving child nutrition and reducing childhood obesity.

Speaking at the Parklawn elementary school in Alexandria, VA, Mrs Obama praised parents for their contribution to the movement to improve the food served in schools:

When we send our kids to school, we have a right to expect that they won’t be eating the kind of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we’re trying to keep from them when they’re at home.  We have a right to expect that the food they get at school is the same kind of food that we want to serve at our own kitchen tables.

After the press conference, the First Lady and Secretary Vilsack joined students for a healthy lunch of turkey tacos, black bean and corn salad and fresh fruit, prepared by celebrity chef Rachael Ray.

 POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the First Lady in School Lunch Standards Announcement

Parklawn Elementary School
Alexandria, Virginia

11:32 A.M. EST

MRS. OBAMA:  Thank you, everyone.  Please, sit, rest.  This is exciting.  It is such a pleasure to be here today.  This is an exciting day.

I want to start by thanking Secretary Vilsack, not just for that very kind introduction but for his outstanding work as Secretary of Agriculture.  He has been just a major proponent on so many issues that are near and dear to me, and we wouldn’t be here without his efforts and the efforts of his entire agency.  So, thank you, sir.

I’d also like to thank Principal Akroyd and Jen Fitzgerald for their terrific work and for hosting us here today at Parklawn Elementary School.  Go, Panthers!  (Laughter.)  I hear you’re the “purring Panthers.”  (Laughter.)  It’s very, very good — very good.  We are so happy to be here and so proud of you all.

And I want to recognize all of the educators, the administrators, the food service workers and the advocates who are here today for everything that you do, every day, on behalf of our kids.  This is a great celebration for us all.

And of course, I want to give a special hello to Rachael Ray, who’s a special guest here.  I know she’s hard at work getting lunch ready, and I am hungry — (laughter) — so I’m looking forward to it.  But she has been a true advocate on this issue for quite some time, and we’re just thrilled that she’s here with us today.

And finally, I want to thank all of the parents who are here today — because, I just want to be clear that we can’t make any mistake about it — this movement to improve the food in our schools is happening in large part because of all of you, the parents.  It’s happening because you all stood up.  It’s happening because you all spoke out and you asked for something better for our kids.

Because, as parents, we all know that if left to their own devices, many of our kids would eat candy for breakfast, they’d follow it up with a few French fries for lunch and cookies and chips for snacks, and then they’d come home for a big chocolate sundae for dinner, right?  (Laughter.)  And we know that it is our responsibility, as adults, to make sure they don’t do that.  So it’s our responsibility to make sure that they get basic nutrition that they need to stay healthy.

And that’s why so many of us try so very hard to prepare decent meals at home, and to limit how much junk food they get at home, and to ensure that they have a reasonably balanced diet.   And when we’re putting forth this kind of effort at home — and many of us are, and it’s difficult to do every single day — it’s always a challenge, particularly with tough economic times and not enough time in the day — but when we’re putting forth these efforts, when we’re doing what we’re supposed to do at home, the last thing we want is to have all these hard efforts, all this hard work undone in the school cafeteria.

When we send our kids to school, we have a right to expect that they won’t be eating the kind of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we’re trying to keep from them when they’re at home.  We have a right to expect that the food they get at school is the same kind of food that we want to serve at our own kitchen tables.

And let’s be clear, this isn’t just about our kids’ health. Studies have shown that our kids’ eating habits can actually affect their academic performance as well.  And I’m sure that comes as no surprise to the educators here today.  Anyone who works with kids knows that they need something other than chips and soda in their stomachs if they’re going to focus on math and science, right?  Kids can’t be expected to sit still and concentrate when they’re on a sugar high, or when they’re stuffed with salty, greasy food — or when they’re hungry.

And that brings me to another important point.  For many kids whose families are struggling, school meals can be their main — or only — source of nutrition for the entire day.  So when we serve higher-quality food in our schools, we’re not just fighting childhood obesity; we’re taking the important steps that are needed to fight child hunger as well.

And that’s why so many schools across this country have been working so hard to improve the food that they serve to our kids in school.  In fact, there are many schools that have been meeting these new standards for years, long before this legislation was passed.  Thousands more have made significant improvements, offering their students a whole array of healthy — and tasty, mind you — new options.

For example, right here at Parklawn and in schools throughout this district, you all are doing some wonderful things, serving baked chicken tenders instead of frying them — small things; replacing white rice with brown rice.  You’re offering all kinds of veggie side dishes, everything from succotash to broccoli, exposing kids to a whole array of wonderful tastes and flavors.

And we’re seeing changes like these in schools all across the country, of all sizes — rural, urban and suburban.  And I’m not just talking about schools in well-off areas with plenty of resources.  I’m talking about schools like F.S. Ervin — it’s an elementary school in Pine Hall [sic], Alabama.  Now, Pine Hall [sic] is a little-bitty town, rural town, with a population under 1,000 and an average household income of less than $26,000.  But they have made some important changes to their school menu already — things like replacing canned vegetables with fresh or frozen ones, moving in more whole grains, offering plenty of fresh fruit, and even baking their French fries instead of frying them.  These are small changes.

And plenty of schools like F.S. Ervin are getting creative in this way.  There are schools around the country that are holding taste tests and recipe contests to get kids really involved in the whole change — give kids a competition and they’ll get involved.  There are schools that are partnering with farmers and with chefs in their communities, and that’s making a difference.  They’re making these small, daily changes — simple things like replacing whole milk with skim milk — changes that add up over time and it can make a real difference in the life of our kids.

And again and again, schools are finding that when they actually offer these healthier options, kids aren’t just willing to try them, they actually like them.  That’s the thing, that’s the surprising thing.  I’ve been to so many schools across the country where parents see their kids eating fresh vegetables off the vine, kids they say would never try anything, but that’s the beauty of children — they change.  They change much easier than we do, and when we give them an opportunity to try something new, they embrace it oftentimes, and they come back for more.

So while budgets are tight right now, there are schools across the country that are showing that it doesn’t take a whole lot of money or resources to give our kids the nutrition they deserve.  What it does take, however, is effort.  What it does take is imagination.  What it does take is a commitment to our children’s futures.

So today, I am asking parents and educators and food service workers across this country to embrace this effort on behalf of our children.  Embrace it.  Because we all know that we are some of the best role models for our kids.  We are the first and best role models.  And if kids are like mine, if I’m excited about something, they’re excited about it — right?  If we as adults embrace it, the kids will follow suit.  They’re looking to us to figure out how to make this happen.  So if we get pumped up about this effort, get excited, get creative, the kids will follow suit and they will do it with vigor and vim, and they’ll be out there out front in a way that we would never expect.

So I want to thank you all once again for all that you do every day on behalf of our children.  I’m excited to be here.  This is a great day, a wonderful accomplishment.  And it’s just exciting to be able to highlight the work that’s being done here at Parklawn.

So now, as I mentioned, I’m a little hungry.  (Laughter.)  I understand that I get to hang out with the kids, have a little lunch.  And it’s turkey tacos!  Sounds really good.  So with that, I want to thank you all for being here, and we’re going to have some lunch.

Thank you all.  (Applause.)

END
11:42 A.M. EST

Political Buzz November 30, 2011: First Lady Michelle Obama Unveils with First Dog Bo the 2011 White House Christmas Theme Shine, Give, Share Honoring Military Families

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

IN FOCUS: FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA UNVEILS WITH FIRST DOG BO THE 2011 WHITE HOUSE CHRISTMAS THEME SHINE, GIVE, SHARE HONORING MILITARY FAMILIES

Bo, the Obama family dog, made from plastic garbage bags, is seen in the Library of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011, as the Christmas holiday decorations, whose theme is 'Shine, Give, Share' were previewed.

Bo, the Obama family dog, made from plastic garbage bags, is seen in the Library of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011, as the Christmas holiday decorations, whose theme is “Shine, Give, Share” were previewed. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

White House Holiday Decoration Preview with the First Lady

Source: WH, 11-30-11

First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed military families to the White House today for the first peek at this year’s holiday decorations. After speaking to parents, spouses, and children of service members in the East Room, she invited kids down to the State Dining Room to decorate cookies and make Christmas tree ornaments.

The theme for this year’s holiday is “Shine, Share, Give,” celebrating the countless ways we can lift up those around us, put our best self forward in the spirit of the season, spend time with friends and family, celebrate the joy of giving to others, and share our blessings with all.  The decorations in every room of the house, hung with care by volunteers from 37 states, reflect the theme, using shiny stars, metallic garland, and twinkling lights and also by inviting visitors to give thanks to the military for their service.

Each room of the White House is uniquely decorated for the holidays. After arriving through the East Visitor Entrance, visitors are invited to write thank you notes to service members in the East Landing and view the Gold Star Families Tree, decorated by families whose loved ones gave their lives in service to our nation.  In the Entrance Hall on the State Floor, crystal snowflakes hang from the ceiling above visitors as they walk toward the Blue Room, home to the official White House Christmas Tree, also decorated in honor of military families. The East Room has been transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with four trees and garland and tree branches in every window.  A 400-pound gingerbread, marzipan, and white chocolate White House—an exact replica, complete with tiny furniture, art, and chandeliers—sits in the State Dining Room.

And, a very special four-legged member of the Obama family is represented in nearly every room. Bo can be found in nearly every room, from small ornaments to life-size topiaries made from everyday materials like felt, buttons, candy and even trash bags!

Read more about the White House Holiday decorations and this year’s theme

Shine, Give, Share

The theme for this 2011 holiday season is “Shine, Give, Share,” which offers an opportunity to pay tribute to our troops, veterans, and their families throughout the White House. This year, the official tour features 37 Christmas trees, 30 are natural trees and 7 are made from paper, felt or aluminum; a gingerbread model of the White House made of 400 pounds of gingerbread, white chocolate and marzipan plus 5 different representations of First Dog Bo Obama. Volunteers from 36 states plus the District of Columbia worked for days to get everything ready.

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Blue Room

The centerpiece of the Blue Room is the official White House Christmas tree—a breathtaking 18-foot-6-inch balsam fir from Neshkoro, Wisconsin—which honors our men and women in uniform and features holiday cards created by military children. Collected from United States military installations around the world, these thoughtful and poignant cards celebrate their parents serving in uniform. Medals, badges, and patches from all of the military branches are displayed on ornaments, historic military images are displayed with volunteer-made pinecone frames and ribbons inspired by the Armed Forces colors represent the brave women and men who protect our Nation and defend our freedom.

Share a holiday message with our troops:

Share Your Message

blue room holiday photo

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Download the White House Holiday Tour Book

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Gold Star Tree

The Gold Star Families Tree pays tribute to those who gave their lives in service to our Nation and to the families who continue to carry their proud legacy forward. Photos of these fallen heroes and messages from their loved ones honor their courageous service, and remind us of the great sacrifices made for our freedom. Visitors can write notes to service members showing their thanks and visiting Gold Star Families will have the opportunity to inscribe a ceramic gold star with a personalized note to decorate the tree. Honoring Gold Star Families in this fashion was the First Lady’s idea, and the tree was decorated by Gold Star families who volunteered their time this holiday season.

gold star tree photos

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See some special moments from White House Holidays through the years

First Family Slideshow First Family’s Pets Slideshow Obama Family Slideshow Simple Gift Blog Post

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Deck the Halls with Bo Obama

This year the White House Holiday décor includes a bounty of Bos! The tour route features 5 Bo topiaries made from various materials like felt (35 yards of wool felt used), buttons (318 buttons in total), pom poms (750 pom poms used), candy (12 marshmallows, 1911 pieces of licorice), and even trash bags (6,850 feet worth)! Including Bo ornaments and other small Bos, you can find Bo in almost every room!

Shine, Give, Share: The Obama White House’s theme for this 2011 holiday season is “Shine, Give, Share,” which offers an opportunity to pay tribute to our troops, veterans, and their families throughout the White House. This year, the official tour features 37 Christmas trees, 30 are natural trees and 7 are made from paper, felt or aluminum; a gingerbread model of the White House made of 400 pounds of gingerbread, white chocolate and marzipan plus 5 different representations of First Dog Bo Obama. Volunteers from 36 states plus the District of Columbia worked for days to get everything ready. — WH

‘Shine, Give, Share’: Christmas Decorations at the White House — PICTURESNational Journal, 11-30-11

  • White House Holiday Decoration Preview with the First Lady: First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed military families to the White House today for the first peek at this year’s holiday decorations. After speaking to parents, spouses, and children of service members in the East Room, she invited kids down…. – The White House, 11-30-11
  • Holiday decorations unveiled to military families: …First lady Michelle Obama welcomed military families to the first viewing of the 2011 decorations on Wednesday. “Shine, Give, Share” is the theme for the Obama family’s third Christmas in the mansion. The theme translates throughout the public viewing space from gold foil leaf trimming to shiny quartz ornaments.
    Several decorations honor military families including a Gold Star Families Tree with ceramic gold ornaments carrying personalized messages by families. Tour visitors can also create handwritten notes for the troops… – AP, 11-30-11
  • White House decks the halls for Christmas: Amid the festive sparkle of 37 Christmas trees and a 400-pound gingerbread White House, Michelle Obama honored military families as she unveiled her 2011 holiday decor. The “Shine, Give, Share” theme was reflected in the East Room’s shimmering quartz … – WaPo, 11-30-11
  • Military families, first dog showcased in Christmas decorations at White House: First dog Bo is upstaging the Christmas decorations at the White House this holiday season. The Obamas’ Portuguese water dog is in almost every room of the public tour, ranging from a miniature licorice and marshmallow version to a felt … – WaPo, 11-30-11
  • The White House decking the halls: First Lady Michelle Obama showed off the newly-decked halls of the White House on Wednesday to a select group of special guests. Family members of military servicemen and women joined Mrs. Obama and her staff to preview this year’s … – CNN, 11-30-11
  • Holiday decorations unveiled to military families: First dog Bo is upstaging the Christmas decorations at the White House this holiday season. The Obamas’ Portuguese water dog is in almost every room of the public tour, ranging from a miniature licorice and marshmallow version…. – CBS News, 11-30-11
  • Bo stars at showcase of White House holiday decorations: The first family’s pet dog, Bo, starred Wednesday at a preliminary viewing of holiday decorations at the White House for military families. First lady Michelle Obama opened the White House to Gold and Blue Star military families … – MSNBC, 11-30-11
  • Bo is Christmas star in White House decor: Amid the festive sparkle of 37 Christmas trees and a 400-pound gingerbread White House, Michelle Obama honored military families as she unveiled her 2011 holiday decor. The “Shine, Give, Share” theme was reflected in the East Room’s shimmering quartz … – WaPo, 11-30-11
  • White House Christmas decor includes military tribute: “Shine, Give, Share” is the theme for Christmas at the White House, whose doors flung open Wednesday to the first wave of guests given the chance to ogle its fragrant, fanciful holiday finery, including no fewer … – LAT, 11-30-11
  • Michelle Obama hosts military families at holiday unveiling: First dog Bo is upstaging the Christmas decorations at the White House this holiday season. First Lady Michelle Obama welcomes children to begin festivities after welcoming military families who would be the first to view the 2011 White House… – USA Today, 11-30-11
  • Obamas Showcase First Pup Bo for Christmas: “Where’s Waldo” Fans will love the Obama’s Christmas decorations this year. Because in nearly every room, the first family has sneaked in a version of the first pup Bo.
    From a nine-and-a-half-inch depiction made of 318 buttons, a candy Bo made of 12 marshmallows and almost 2,000 pieces of licorice, a black and white Bo made of about 7,000 feet of trash bags and a four-and-a- half-foot tall pup made out of 35 yards of wool felt, it’s obvious Bo is the star of this year’s White House Christmas…. – US News, 11-30-11
  • Christmas At The White House: ‘Where’s Bo?’: While the official theme of this year’s White House Christmas is “Shine, Give, Share,” the real star of the Obama’s third holiday season at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is First Dog Bo. “It’s sort of a ‘where’s Bo?’” First Lady Michelle Obama explained at a White House holiday event with military families today. “You’ve got to find the Bo in every room, because he’s hidden everywhere.” … ABC News, 11-30-11
  • Michelle Obama, and Bo, show off White House holiday decor: First lady Michelle Obama and her dog Bo welcomed military families to the White House on Wednesday, the first visitors to see this year’s White House holiday decorations. As usual, the decorations are impressive…. – USA Today, 11-30-11
  • White House Christmas display salutes military: “Shine, Give, Share” is the theme for Christmas at the White House, whose doors flung open Wednesday to the first wave of guests allowed to ogle its fragrant, fanciful holiday finery, including no fewer … – Chicago Tribune, 11-30-11

Political Headlines July 9, 2011: Remembering First Lady Betty Ford, 1918-2011

POLITICAL HEADLINES

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

The Fords embrace in the Oval Office, December, 6, 1974.

Betty and Gerald Ford in the Oval Office
The Fords embrace in the Oval Office, December, 6, 1974.

(Photo: Gerald R. Ford Library)

FORMER FIRST LADY BETTY FORD: 1918-2011

IN FOCUS

Betty Ford dies at the age of 93: Betty Ford, 93, a self-proclaimed “ordinary” woman who never cared for political life but made a liberating adventure out of her 30 months as first lady, died Friday.

THE HEADLINES….

  • Former first lady Betty Ford dies at 93: Betty Ford, wife of former President Gerald Ford and the founder of the Betty Ford Center for substance abuse and addiction, has died at age 93…. – WaPo, 7-8-11
  • Betty Ford: A free spirit who became an inspiration to millions: Former first lady Betty Ford’s triumph over drug and alcohol addiction became a beacon of hope for addicts and the inspiration for her Betty Ford Center in California. Mrs. Ford passed on Friday…. – CS Monitor, 7-9-11
  • Former first lady Betty Ford dies at 93: Betty Ford, the former first lady whose triumph over drug and alcohol addiction became a beacon of hope for addicts and the inspiration for her Betty Ford Center in California, died at age 93, a family friend said late Friday.
    Her death Friday was confirmed to The Associated Press by Marty Allen, chairman emeritus of the Ford Foundation. Family spokeswoman Barbara Lewandrowski said later that the former first lady died at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage. Other details of her death were not immediately available. Ford’s husband, Gerald, died in December 2006.
    Betty Ford had undergone surgery for an undisclosed ailment in April 2007. During and after her years in the White House, 1974 to 1977, Mrs. Ford won acclaim for her candor, wit and courage as she fought breast cancer, severe arthritis and the twin addictions of drugs and alcohol. She also pressed for abortion rights and women’s rights…. – AP, 7-9-11
  • Betty Ford 1918-2011 Betty Ford, Former First Lady, Dies at 93: Betty Ford, the outspoken and much-admired wife of President Gerald R. Ford who overcame alcoholism and an addiction to pills and helped found one of the best-known rehabilitation centers in the nation, died Friday in Palm Springs, Calif. She was 93. Her death was confirmed by Chris Chase, Mrs. Ford’s biographer.
    The news of her death at Eisenhower Medical Center brought statements of condolence from President Obama, former Presidents George Bush, George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, and Nancy Reagan, the former first lady.
    Few first ladies have been as popular as Betty Ford, and it was her frankness and lack of pretense that made her so. She spoke often in support of the Equal Rights Amendment, endorsed legalized abortion, discussed premarital sex and revealed that she intended to share a bed with her husband in the White House.
    When her husband’s voice failed him the morning after he was defeated by Jimmy Carter in 1976, it was she who read the official concession statement with smiling grace. And when Mr. Ford died in December 2006, it was Mrs. Ford who announced his death. The six days of national mourning returned her to a spotlight she had tried to avoid in her later years, living in Rancho Mirage, Calif., a golf community southeast of Palm Springs, and tending to her clinic there, the Betty Ford Center…. – NYT, 7-9-11
  • Snyder: Betty Ford was “outstanding Michigander”: Gov. Rick Snyder says the state is mourning the loss of former first lady Betty Ford, a woman he calls an “extraordinary woman” and an “outstanding Michigander.” In a statement Friday, Snyder said Ford was “a shining example of how one person can truly make a difference.” The governor says he and his wife, Sue, extend their sympathies to the Ford family.
    Ford family spokeswoman Barbara Lewandrowski says Ford’s body will be sent to Michigan from California for burial alongside former President Gerald Ford, who is buried at his namesake library in Grand Rapids…. – AP, 7-9-11
  • Private memorial for Betty Ford will be Tuesday in Palm Desert: Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter will be among those delivering eulogies for the wife of the nation’s 38th president.
    A private memorial for former First Lady Betty Ford will be held in Palm Desert on Tuesday, with a eulogy to be delivered by former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, before her remains are flown to Michigan and laid to rest beside her husband, a family representative said Saturday.
    Ford, 93, died of natural causes Friday afternoon, surrounded by family members at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage. She had been hospitalized with a brief illness but, contrary to some news reports, did not suffer a stroke, said Greg Willard, the Fords’ longtime attorney.
    “I wanted to express the gratitude and thanks of the Ford family for the magnificent outpouring of sympathy that they have received literally from around the world. It’s been, quite frankly, heartwarming beyond measure,” Willard said during an afternoon news conference…. – LAT, 7-9-11

QUOTES BY BETTY FORD

(On hearing her husband take the oath of office in August 1974): “The words cut through me, pinned me to the floor. I felt as though I were taking the oath with him, promising to dedicate my own life to the service of my country.

“I was the wife of the President of the United States.”

“What an astonishing place for Elizabeth Ann Bloomer to have come to.”

(On meeting Ford): Fall 1947: “Once I’d said marriage was the last thing on my mind, and he’d made it clear it was no part of his program either, we could relax, have a good time, go to all the football games. He wanted a companion, and I filled the bill. As for me, I liked handsome blond men, I found him physically attractive; I enjoyed his company and his friends.”

November 1948: “When he first told me he was going to run for Congress, I didn’t know what running for Congress meant. I was very unprepared to be a political wife, but I didn’t worry because I really didn’t think he was going to win. At that time, only old men went to Congress.”

(On children and motherhood): “I was always there at three-thirty when the older ones came home from school and in the days when we still had infants, I was a pretty average mother. If I had a quiet hour, I dived into a historical novel. … I was a den mother. I was a Sunday-school teacher. I was an interior decorator and a peacemaker and a zoo keeper. We raised every kind of an animal in the world.”

(On Ford’s Vice Presidency): Dec. 6, 1973: “Before he got this new job, I’d been planning to work at a hospital three days a week, because I needed to feel I was doing something for someone else. … Suddenly I had more projects than I could handle.”

(On Ford becoming president): “I had such belief in my husband. I never doubted he could do it. … But I wasn’t sure what kind of First Lady I would be. There was a great deal of whooping and hollering right at the beginning because I’d said Jerry and I were not going to have separate bedrooms at the White House, and that we were going to take our own bed with us. … Even now, after all those years of married life, I like the idea of sleeping with my husband next to me.”

“I figured, OK, I’ll move to the White House, do the best I can and if they don’t like it, they can kick me out, but they can’t make me somebody I’m not.”

“I think it wasn’t so much that the White House altered me in any essential way as that I found the resources with which to respond to a series of challenges. You never know what you can do until you have to do it. In the beginning, it was like going to a party you’re terrified of, and finding out to your amazement that you’re having a good time.”

(On getting breast cancer): “…I never felt hopelessly mutilated. After all, Jerry and I had been married a good many years and our love had proved itself. I had no reason to doubt my husband. If he’d lost a leg, I wouldn’t have deserted him, and I knew he wouldn’t desert me because I was unfortunate enough to have had a mastectomy. Neither of us can walk away from the other.”

“Lying in the hospital, thinking of all those women going for cancer checkups because of me, I’d come to recognize more clearly the power of the woman in the White House. Not my power, but the power of the position, a power which could be used to help.”

(On equal rights): “A housewife deserves to be honored as much as a woman who earns her living in the marketplace. I consider bringing up children a responsible job. In fact, being a good housewife seems to me a much tougher job than going to the office and getting paid for it. What man could afford to pay for all the things a wife does, when she’s a cook, a mistress, a chauffeur, a nurse, a baby-sitter? But because of this, I feel women ought to have equal rights, equal Social Security, equal opportunities for education, an equal chance to establish credit.”

(On campaigning in 1976): “I hadn’t wanted Jerry to be president, but I had long since accepted his decision to run. You plan your life one way, it goes another. When the time came, I felt he would be the best man for the job, and I was willing to take on four more years in the White House.”

“I had never expected to go out and campaign for my husband for president of the United States… At first I was petrified to get up and speak, particularly without a prepared text. In the beginning, I used to feel sick. After a while, I became so involved I stopped thinking about my stomach and carried on like the rest of the troops.”

(On her 1978 hospital stay for substance abuse): “For 14 years, I’d been on medication for the pinched nerve, the arthritis, the muscle spasms in my neck, and I’d lost my tolerance for pills. If I had a single drink, the alcohol, on top of the pills, would make me groggy.”

“I entered Long Beach to rid myself of dependence on drugs. Even now, I think staying off medication will be harder for me than staying off liquor because I have pain which comes often. For the present, I seem to be dealing with it. It’s mind over matter a lot.”

QUOTES — ON BETTY FORD’S PASSING

  • Susan Ford Bales, Steven Meigs Ford, John Gardner Ford and Michael Gerald Ford: “It is with great sadness that we inform you that our beloved mother Betty Ford has passed away at 93 years of age. She died peacefully today at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California.
    Mother’s love, candor, devotion, and laughter enriched our lives and the lives of the millions she touched throughout this great nation. To be in her presence was to know the warmth of a truly great lady.
    Mother’s passing leaves a deep void, but it also fills us with immeasurable appreciation for the life we and Dad shared with her.”
  • “Throughout her long and active life, Elizabeth Anne Ford distinguished herself through her courage and compassion. As our nation’s First Lady, she was a powerful advocate for women’s health and women’s rights. After leaving the White House, Mrs. Ford helped reduce the social stigma surrounding addiction and inspired thousands to seek much-needed treatment. While her death is a cause for sadness, we know that organizations such as the Betty Ford Center will honor her legacy by giving countless Americans a new lease on life.” — President Barack Obama
  • “Laura and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Betty Ford. We admired her as a First Lady and valued her as a friend. She made countless contributions to our country, and we especially appreciate her courage in calling attention to breast cancer and substance abuse. Because of her leadership, many lives were saved. Tonight our prayers go out to Mrs. Ford’s entire family.” — Former President George W. Bush
  • “Barbara and I loved Betty Ford very much. She was a wonderful wife and mother; a great friend; and a courageous First Lady. No one confronted life’s struggles with more fortitude or honesty, and as a result, we all learned from the challenges she faced. The Betty Ford Center, which already has helped change the lives of thousands of people, will be her lasting legacy of care and concern. We were proud to know her. We were proud to call her a friend. We will miss her very much.” — Former President George H. W. Bush
  • “Rosalynn and I are saddened by the passing of Betty Ford, a close personal friend and our frequent partner in bipartisan efforts to improve mental health and substance abuse care in our nation. She was a remarkable political spouse, whose courageous candor helped forge a new era of openness after the divisiveness of the Vietnam War and Watergate. Also, as a tireless advocate for women’s rights and social justice, she helped to improve the lives and opportunities of countless women and children. We extend our deepest sympathy to her family at this difficult time.” — Former President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalyn Carter
  • “We are deeply saddened by the passing of First Lady Betty Ford. As a staunch advocate for women’s and equal rights, Betty paved the way for generations of women to follow. Her courage, compassion, and commitment to helping our nation deal with drug and alcohol abuse and addiction helped thousands of people to a successful recovery and in the process she helped to save countless families. …. Betty was a remarkable woman whose legacy will live on in people around the country whose lives are longer and better because of her work. Our thoughts and prayers are with her children and grandchildren. We are grateful for her contributions, and for her kindness to us. We will miss her.” — Former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton
  • “I was deeply saddened this afternoon when I heard of Betty Ford’s death. She has been an inspiration to so many through her efforts to educate women about breast cancer and her wonderful work at the Betty Ford Center. She was Jerry Ford’s strength through some very difficult days in our country’s history, and I admired her courage in facing and sharing her personal struggles with all of us. My love and deepest sympathy go out to the entire Ford family at this very sad time.” — Former First Lady Nancy Reagan
  • “It is with deep sadness that Jill and I learned of the loss of Betty Ford. Throughout her life, Betty displayed strength, courage and determination that provided hope for millions of Americans seeking a healthier, happier future. Her legacy and work will live on through the millions of lives she has touched and the many more who will continue to look to her for inspiration. Her family will remain in our thoughts and prayers in the coming days.” — Vice President Joe Biden
  • “Mrs. Ford was a courageous pioneer, a groundbreaking First Lady, and a forceful advocate for anyone suffering from addiction or breast cancer. America fought her struggles with her and learned alongside her. She was brave, outspoken and kind. As a journalist, I had the opportunity to interview her several times and she was just fascinating. She was a wonderful woman who stood up for any human being struggling in the shadows of their personal pain. One of my highlights as First Lady of California was to honor her with a Minerva Award in 2005. My heart goes out to her entire family. Her daughter Susan is a dear friend of mine and continues to carry on Mrs. Ford’s work in such a powerful way.” — Former California First Lady Maria Shriver
  • “Betty Ford was a marvelous example of courage, faith and leadership as First Lady, and as a wife and mother. Our nation and state mourn her passing and we extend our hearts and prayers to the Ford family.” – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette
  • “Betty Ford was an outstanding Michigander and a shining example of how one person can truly make a difference. Her groundbreaking work in breast cancer awareness and treatment as well as her pioneering efforts to help those struggling with addiction changed the lives of millions of people for the better. She was a role model for us all as she lived her life with grace and dignity. While Michigan mourns the loss of this extraordinary woman, we are thankful for her years of dedication to our state and its people.
    Sue and I extend our deepest sympathies to the Ford family, in particular children Michael, John, Steven and Susan.” – Gov. Rick Snyder
  • “Betty Ford was a woman of incredible grace and courage. She served our nation in so many ways — as a partner to her husband as he steered the ship of state through turbulent times; as a powerful voice for breast cancer victims; as an advocate for women’s rights; and as someone who as been as responsible as anyone for our society’s awareness of substance abuse and improvements in its treatment. She spent a lifetime breaking down barriers for millions to follow. Barbara and I join Michigan and the nation in mourning her loss.” – U.S. Sen. Carl Levin
  • “Jock and I are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Betty Ford, the former First Lady of the United States and a longtime champion of women’s rights. Betty and her husband, the late President Gerald Ford, represented a voice for civility, consensus-building, and integrity at a most challenging time for our nation. She had a profound impact on our country that will last for generations. She helped to raise awareness about women’s health issues and made great contributions to our society. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Ford family during this difficult time.” – U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe
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