All posts tagged Michelle Obama
Political Musings December 26, 2014: Obamas celebrate Christmas marking the end of the War in Afghanistan
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 26, 2014
Full Text Obama Presidency December 25, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address: Happy Holidays from the President and First Lady Michelle Obama — Transcript
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Weekly Address: Happy Holidays from the President and First Lady
Source: WH, 12-25-14
Remarks of President Barack Obama
The White House
December 25, 2014
THE PRESIDENT: Merry Christmas everybody! Now, we’re not going to take much of your time because today is about family and being together with the ones you love. And luckily for me, that means I get a little help on the weekly address, too.
THE FIRST LADY: The holidays at the White House are such a wonderful time of year.
We fill the halls with decorations, Christmas trees, and carolers – and this year, we invited more than 65,000 people to join us.
Our theme was “A Children’s Winter Wonderland” – and Americans young and old had a chance to come together and celebrate the season.
THE PRESIDENT: And today, our family will join millions across the country in celebrating the birth of Jesus – the birth not just of a baby in a manger, but of a message that has changed the world: to reach out to the sick; the hungry; the troubled; and above all else, to love one another as we would be loved ourselves.
THE FIRST LADY: We hope that this holiday season will be a chance for us to live out that message—to bridge our differences and lift up our families, friends, and neighbors… and to reconnect with the values that bind us together.
And as a country, that also means celebrating and honoring those who have served and sacrificed for all of us—our troops, veterans, and their families.
THE PRESIDENT: In just a few days, our combat mission in Afghanistan will be over. Our longest war will come to a responsible end. And that gives us an opportunity to step back and reflect upon all that these families have given us. We’re able to gather with family and friends because our troops are willing to hug theirs goodbye and step forward to serve. After a long day, we can come home because they’re willing to leave their families and deploy. We can celebrate the holidays because they’re willing to miss their own.
THE FIRST LADY: And so, as our troops continue to transition back home—back to our businesses, our schools, our congregations, and our communities—it’s up to all of us to serve them as well as they have served us.
You can visit JoiningForces.gov to find out how you can honor and support the troops, veterans, and military families in your communities.
That’s something we can do not only during the holiday season, but all year round.
THE PRESIDENT: So Merry Christmas, everybody. May God bless you all. And we wish you and your family a happy and healthy 2015.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 25, 2014
Political Musings December 21, 2014: Obamas celebrating Christmas and New Year’s holidays with 16-day Hawaii vacation
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 21, 2014
Full Text Obama Presidency December 17, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Afternoon and evening Hanukkah ReceptionsFull Text Obama Presidency December 15, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at “Christmas in Washington” — Transcript
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Remarks By The President At Evening Hanukkah Reception
Source: WH, 12-17-14
8:03 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody!
THE PRESIDENT: Happy Hanukkah!
AUDIENCE: Happy Hanukkah!
THE PRESIDENT: This is a particularly good-looking Hanukkah crowd.
MRS. OBAMA: It’s good. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: It’s very impressive.
Now, every year, Michelle and I like to invite just a few friends over for a small Hanukkah celebration. (Laughter.) Nothing fancy. This is the second year we’ve invited so many friends that we ended up having to have two Hanukkah parties. (Applause.) We had one earlier this afternoon. I have to tell you, this is the better party. (Applause.) Don’t tell anybody because —
MRS. OBAMA: He said that earlier.
THE PRESIDENT: I said that earlier. (Laughter.) But I really mean it this time. (Applause.)
We are blessed to have so many friends and dignitaries here. I want to welcome Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, who’s here, and his wife, Rhoda –- (applause) — all our friends from the State of Israel, who remind us that the bonds between our two countries are unbreakable. (Applause.)
We have leaders from across my administration, including our outstanding Secretary of the Treasury, Jack Lew. (Applause.) Council of Economic Advisers Chair, Jason Furman. Give Jason some more — Jason actually is the guy who gives me the jobs report every month. Ever since he’s come on they’ve been really good. So give Jason a big round of applause. (Applause.)
National Economic Council Director Jeff Zients is here. (Applause.) We’ve got the Governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley. (Applause.) We’ve got all kinds of members of Congress here, including our DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. (Applause.) The president of the Anti-Defamation League, Abe Foxman. (Applause.) And a member of my team who’s leaving to become ADL’s next president, Jonathan Greenblatt. (Applause.)
Now, I’m going to begin by saying what a glorious day this is — because, after five years, American Alan Gross is free. (Applause.) As all of you know, he was arrested five years ago by Cuban authorities simply for helping ordinary Cubans — including a small Jewish community in Cuba –- just for access information on the Internet. Today, after 1,840 days, he is back where he belongs — with his wife Judy and his family. And as you heard Alan say today, this is his best Hanukkah.
From his cell, Alan once wrote, “I refuse to accept that my country would leave me behind.” And he is right. We’re committed to the principle that no American ever gets left behind. We do everything in our power to bring Americans home. So we thank all those who helped to make sure that Alan was never forgotten. And as now we’re moving forward, we know that the historic changes I announced today will mean greater opportunity and progress for both Americans and for Cubans, including the small but proud Jewish community in Cuba. (Applause.)
So we are here to celebrate a story that took place more than 2,000 years ago, when a small group of Maccabees rose up to defeat their far more powerful oppressors. In the face of — what do we got playing there? (Laughter.) What you got on your phone? I was trying to figure out the ringtone. (Laughter.)
Where was I? Small group of Maccabees — right! Rose up to defeat their far more powerful oppressors. In the face of overwhelming odds, they reclaimed their city, and the right to worship as they choose.
And after their victory, the Maccabees found there wasn’t enough oil to keep the flame in their temple alive. But they lit the oil that they had. And miraculously, the flame that was supposed to burn for just one night burned for eight. The Hanukkah story teaches us that our light can shine brighter than even we could imagine — with a little bit of faith, and making sure that it’s up to us to provide that first spark.
The menorahs that we’re about to light remind us of our power to make miracles happen. It was one of four that were brought here from Israel, and was built by children in Yemin Orde, a village in Israel founded in 1953 to provide a safe haven to orphans and young immigrants after the Holocaust. More than 60 years later, Yemin Orde still gives children in Israel a shot at a brighter future. And tonight, Atakalit Tesfaye, a graduate of Yemin Orde, will help us light the Hanukkah candles. (Applause.)
He will be joined by Dr. Adam Levine. Now, I just want to be clear, this is not — (laughter) — Adam Levine, People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive — (laughter) — although he’s a pretty sexy guy. (Laughter.) This is actually Dr. Adam Levine, Time’s Person of the Year. (Applause.) Along with his compatriots, Adam, who recently returned from Liberia, has been doing heroic work for Ebola patients, saving lives. (Applause.)
Yemin Orde is just one village. But the story of Hanukkah teaches us that there’s no such thing as a futile act of courage, or a small act of faith. One doctor can save a life. One school can help a child. That life, that child may change a village. One person can be the spark that changes the world.
So as we gather with family and friends, let’s give thanks to the miracles that we’ve been blessed with in our own lives — miracles large and small — same ringtone. (Laughter.) During this Festival of Lights, let’s commit ourselves to making new miracles, and to sharing them with the world.
I’d now like to invite Rabbi Angela Buchdahl — from Manhattan — (applause) — to lead us in the blessing and candle-lighting. (Applause.)
8:11 P.M. EST
Remarks by the President at Afternoon Hanukkah Reception
Source: WH, 12-17-14
4:27 P.M. EST
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Happy Hanukkah, Mr. President!
THE PRESIDENT: Well, Happy Hanukkah to you! (Laughter.) You stole my line. (Laughter.) Happy Hanukkah, everybody.
AUDIENCE: Happy Hannukah.
MRS. OBAMA: Welcome to the White House. I want to welcome the members of Congress who are here today. We’ve got some Bronfman Fellows — (applause) — who are here from the State of Israel. (Applause.) Obviously, the bonds between our two countries are unbreakable, and with the help of young people, they’re only going to grow stronger in the years to come.
Every year, Michelle and I like to invite just a few friends over for a little Hanukkah celebration. (Laughter.) Nothing fancy. Actually, this is the second year we’ve invited so many friends that we’re hosting two parties instead of one. This is our first party — it is the best party. (Laughter.) Don’t tell the others, though.
I want to begin with today’s wonderful news. I’m told that in the Jewish tradition, one of the great mitzvahs is pidyon shvuyim. (Applause.) My Hebrew is not perfect, but I get points for trying. But it describes the redemption, the freeing, of captives. And that’s what we’re celebrating today, because after being unjustly held in Cuba for more than five years, American Alan Gross is free. (Applause.)
Alan has dedicated his life to others — to helping people around the world develop their communities and improve their lives, including Israelis and Palestinians. He’s a man of deep faith who once worked for the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Five years ago, he was arrested by Cuban authorities simply for helping ordinary Cubans, including Cuba’s small Jewish community, access information on the Internet. And ever since, those who have loved and cared for Alan never stopped working to bring him home: Judy, his wife of 44 years, and their daughters, including his oldest daughter who walked down the aisle without her dad on her wedding day. His mother, who passed away this year without being able to see her son one last time. His whole family, including his sister-in-law, Gwen Zuares, who joins us here today — where is Gwen? (Applause.) Hey, Gwen. His rabbi, his friends at his congregation in Maryland, Am Kolel, who kept him in their prayers every Shabbat. Jewish and other faith leaders across the country and around the world, including His Holiness Pope Francis. And members of Congress and those of us in the United States government.
And Alan has fought back. He spoke out from his cell, he went on a hunger strike. With his health deteriorating, his family worried he might not be able to make it out alive. But he never gave up, and we never gave up.
As I explained earlier, after our many months of discussion with the Cuban government, Alan was finally released this morning on humanitarian grounds. I spoke to him on his flight. He said he was willing to interrupt his corned beef sandwich to talk to me. (Laughter.) I told him he had mustard in his mustache; I couldn’t actually see it. (Laughter.) But needless to say, he was thrilled. And he landed at Andrews in a plane marked “The United States of America.” (Applause.)
He’s going to be getting the medical attention that he needs. He’s back where he belongs — in America, with his family, home for Hanukkah. And I can’t think of a better way to mark this holiday, with its message that freedom is possible, than with the historic changes that I announced today in our Cuba policy. (Applause.) These are changes that are rooted in America’s commitment to freedom and democracy for all the Cuban people, including its small but proud Jewish community. And Alan’s remarks about the need for these changes was extremely powerful.
So what brings us together is not just lox and latkes — (laughter) — although I have heard the latkes here are outstanding. (Applause.) Am I wrong? Not as good as your mom’s, but they’re good. (Applause.)
We’re here to celebrate a story that took place more than 2,000 years ago, when a small group of Maccabees rose up to defeat their far more powerful oppressors. In the face of overwhelming odds, they reclaimed their city and the right to worship as they chose. And in their victory, they found there wasn’t enough oil to keep the flame in their temple alive. But they lit the oil they had and, miraculously, the flame that was supposed to burn for just one night burned for eight. The Hanukkah story teaches us that our light can shine brighter than we could ever imagine with faith, and it’s up to us to provide that first spark.
This is something that Inbar Vardi and Mouran Ibrahim know very well. They are Israeli ninth-graders at Hand in Hand, which is a bilingual school in Jerusalem. (Applause.) For more than a decade, it’s brought Jewish and Arab children together. So Inbar is Jewish; Mouran is Muslim.
Just two weeks ago, their school’s first-grade classroom was set on fire by arsonists. In the weeks that followed, they and their classmates could have succumbed to anger or cynicism, but instead they built this menorah, one of four that we brought here from Israel this year. Each of its branches are dedicated to one of the values their school is founded on — values like community and dignity and equality and peace. Inbar and Mouran flew here from Israel along with Rebecca Bardach, the mother of a first-grader and second-grader at Hand in Hand, and in just a few minutes the three of them are going to join us in lighting the Hanukkah candles here at the White House. (Applause.)
So Inbar and Mouran and their fellow students teach us a critical lesson for this time in our history: The light of hope must outlast the fires of hate. That’s what the Hanukkah story teaches us. That’s what our young people can teach us — that one act of faith can make a miracle. That love is stronger than hate. That peace can triumph over conflict. And during this Festival of Lights, let’s commit ourselves to making some small miracles ourselves and then sharing them with the world.
I now want to invite Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson to the podium who can lead us in the blessings for the candle lighting. Rabbi. (Applause.)
(The blessings are given.)
END 4:38 P.M. EST
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 17, 2014
Full Text Obama Presidency December 15, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at “Christmas in Washington” — Transcript
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the President at “Christmas in Washington”
Source: WH, 12-15-14
National Building Museum
7:32 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Give it up for Santa’s biggest, baddest elf — our host, The Rock. (Applause.) Dwayne is tough as nails on the outside, but as you heard earlier, he is a big softie on the inside. Even played me once on “Saturday Night Live.” (Laughter.) You can see the resemblance. (Laughter.) I have a little more hair.
I want to thank all the incredible performers for dazzling us with their talents tonight. Give them a big round of applause. (Applause.) And we want to thank all the people behind the scenes who help make this wonderful event possible every single year.
For 33 years, “Christmas in Washington” has benefited a remarkable institution — Children’s National Medical Center. That’s where dedicated medical professionals provide world-class care to our most precious resource — our children — every single day of the year. Of course, this holiday is all about the birth of a child more than 2,000 years ago. A young soon-to-be mother and her husband of modest means traveled to Bethlehem and sought shelter for the night. They found it in a manger. And in the lowliest of surroundings a Savior was born who would change the world.
Jesus Christ lived a life of peace, of love, and kindness and forgiveness. He administered to the poor and to the sick, to the stranger and the outcast on society’s margins. His life of service teaches us that our individual salvation is wrapped up in the salvation of others. And two millennia later, it lifts the hearts of billions around the world, Christians and non-Christians alike.
In the hustle and bustle of Christmas season, may we all do our best to follow his example, to reach out to someone whose Christmas isn’t so jolly; to turn our blessings into kindness and compassion; to treat one another the way we would like to be treated. That’s the real Christmas spirit.
To all our men and women in uniform serving far from home, and to the families who miss them, we thank you for your service and sacrifice, and we’re thinking of you this holiday season. And to every American, from the Obama family to yours, Merry Christmas. God bless you, and God bless America.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 7:36 P.M. EST
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 15, 2014
Political Musings December 10, 2014: First Lady Michelle delivers Toys for Tots with Santa Obama as the big Elf
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
- December 10, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 10, 2014
Full Text Obama Presidency December 10, 2014: President Barack Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama’s Remarks At Toys for Tots Gift Sorting — Transcript
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the President and the First Lady At Toys for Tots Gift Sorting
Source: WH, 12-10-14
Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling
1:42 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Ho, ho, ho. (Applause.)
MRS. OBAMA: That’s a pretty serious, ho, ho, ho.
THE PRESIDENT: Ho, ho, ho.
MRS. OBAMA: How is everybody doing?
THE PRESIDENT: She’s doing good.
MRS. OBAMA: Happy holidays, merry Christmas.
THE PRESIDENT: Merry Christmas.
MRS. OBAMA: How are all the kids? Yay. Well, we’re happy to be back. As you can see, I brought a little help this year. Welcome to Toys for Tots. Your first year. We’re going to break you in slowly, okay?
But let me start — we’re not going to talk long because we’re here to actually do some work. But I want to just thank everybody who has been involved in this effort. Of course, Lieutenant General Osman, who has just been a tremendous partner for so many years. His leadership is really at the heart of what makes this drive possible.
But also Lieutenant General Richard Mills, Lieutenant Colonel David Johnson, and First Sergeant Lowery, as well. Let’s give them all a round of applause for their tremendous leadership. (Applause.)
Thank you all for all the hours that you spend picking up the donations, sorting in warehouses all throughout the area. This wouldn’t be possible without you and, of course, your wonderful families here who help to make this possible.
We have a couple of other folks here. We’ve got White House Communications Agency folks and their families. Let’s give you guys a round of applause. Thank you all so much for your work. (Applause.)
And of course, to all of the Marines from Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, plus their spouses and all of our military kids. Yay, you guys. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Yay! (Applause.)
MRS. OBAMA: As General Osman said, this is the sixth year that I’ve been involved in Toys for Tots. And every year it’s just a tremendous privilege to be able to be a part of making Christmas just a little brighter for a few kids across the country.
And we try to make it a big deal at the White House. We create competitions. I think this year the office that collected the most toys got a Bo and Sonny visit. (Laughter.) So we did a good job this year. I think this year we’re bringing in about a thousand toys from the White House. And so we’re proud of our team at the White House for participating.
But we still have a lot of time. And one of the things that I just want to remind the public is that there’s still time to donate. And we really want to urge folks out there do everything in their power to donate to Toys for Tots.
And if you need to find out where to go, all you have to go — do is go to the Toys for Tots website. People can donate online. They can go by one of the drop-off centers. And each year, I kind of remind people that at times one of the challenges is making sure we have enough toys for the older kids. It’s always fun to buy the Barbie Dolls and the coloring books, but we have to remember that there are teenagers out there too that need those gifts. And we try to make it a point to make sure that we’re buying cool clothes for kids and electronic products and educational materials for teenagers, as well.
So if you haven’t already donated, don’t forget our teenagers. They’re looking for a merry Christmas as well.
So with that, I’m going to turn it over to my new helper, who I brought along with me. He doesn’t need any introductions. I don’t know how good he’ll be with sorting — (laughter) — because he doesn’t usually deal in shopping in any kind of way. But we’ll watch him closely to see if he can figure out which ones are girls, zero to two, or unisex. It gets really complicated. So watch him, because he could really make your work harder.
So with that, it’s my pleasure to introduce my husband, the President of the United States. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) I’m the big elf. (Laughter.) I’m like Will Farrell. (Laughter.) It is great to be here. I’m not going to talk long. I just want to say thanks to all of you for participating. I want to say thank you to Toys for Tots. Quick statistic: Since it started in the 1940s, Toys for Tots has distributed more than 469 million toys to more than 216 million children. That’s a lot of dollhouses, that’s a lot of Ninja Turtles.
But really what Toys for Tots is about is generosity and giving back. All of us are so blessed. Look at these beautiful kids here and wonderful families. We are lucky. We’re lucky first and foremost to live in the United States of America, and we’re lucky to be able to look after our kids and there are parents out there who love their kids just as much but are going through a tough time. And for us to be able to make sure that that holiday spirit extends a little bit beyond just our family but to people all around the country, it is a wonderful contribution.
While I’m here, I just want to say thank you to our Marine Corps for their extraordinary work. Our men and women in uniform and our military families don’t just work to keep us safe; they’re also strengthening our country here at home. They’re volunteering at schools, congregations, our communities. With our combat mission coming to a close in Afghanistan, it means more of our extraordinary military members are going to be home for the holidays, back where they belong. And that is the most important blessing of all.
But what’s also great is that we’re now seeing our incredible military — some who may be leaving the military — able to provide that same dedication, that same sense of service to organizations throughout the country. Sometimes in a volunteer capacity, sometimes in a professional capacity. And we are very proud of that. Lieutenant General Osman is just a great example of the ongoing spirit of duty and service that is instilled in armed forces. So we are so grateful to all of you.
With that, I want to wish everybody a merry Christmas, a happy New Year, and let’s get sorting. I am positive that girls, zero to two, that’s perfect for the “Call of Duty” video game. (Laughter.) Isn’t that right?
MRS. OBAMA: What video game?
THE PRESIDENT: See, she didn’t even get the joke. (Laughter.)
MRS. OBAMA: I wasn’t listening.
THE PRESIDENT: She wasn’t listening to me. (Laughter.) Thank you, everybody. God bless you. (Applause.)
1:50 P.M. EST
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 10, 2014
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the President at Kennedy Center Honors Reception
Source: WH, 12-7-14
5:09 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening, everybody.
AUDIENCE: Good evening.
THE PRESIDENT: Welcome to the White House. Michelle and I love this event. Everybody looks so nice. (Laughter.) This is one of our favorites. And as Lily used to say — that’s the truth. (Laughter.) Now, as a President, I cannot stick out my tongue. That might cause an international incident.
But I want to start the evening by thanking David Rubenstein and the Kennedy Center Trustees, and the Kennedy Center’s new president, Deborah Rutter. Where’s Deborah? (Applause.) Yay! I want to thank George and Michael Stevens, who produce this event every year. (Applause.) Lately, they’ve won an Emmy for it just about every year, as well. So we are very proud to have them here. In fact, Michelle and I call this the “Stevens season.” (Laughter.)
President Kennedy once wrote, “The life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of a nation, is very close to the center of a nation’s purpose — and is a test of the quality of a nation’s civilization.”
I think Tom Hanks will agree that President Kennedy was probably envisioning “Joe Versus the Volcano” when he wrote that. (Laughter.) Although, I have to say, “Big” was on last night. (Applause.) And that — so things balance out. (Laughter.) But it’s clear that the group on stage with me tonight understands what President Kennedy understood: that our art is a reflection of us not just as people, but as a nation. It binds us together. Songs and dance and film express our triumphs and our faults, our strengths, our tenderness in ways that sometimes words simply cannot do. And so we honor those who have dedicated their lives to this endeavor. Those who have tapped into something previously unspoken, or unsung, or unexpressed. Those who have shown us not simply who they are, but who we all are. Those who are able to tap into those things we have in common, and not just those things that push us apart.
Now, I’m going to start with somebody who I know all of you think about whenever I sing, and that’s Reverend Al Green. (Laughter.) I’ve been keeping his traditions alive. (Laughter.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Do it again. Do it again.
THE PRESIDENT: No, I’m not going to do it again. I’m not going to do it. (Laughter.) No. No. That was like a one-time thing. My voice didn’t crack. It was a fluke. I can sing a little, but I cannot sing like Al Green. Nobody can sing like Al Green. (Applause.) Nobody can sing like Al Green. That soul, that light falsetto. His music can bring people together. In fact, he says he can hardly go anywhere without a fan coming up to him, pulling out a picture of one of their kids, and telling him which of his songs helped that child enter the world. (Laughter.) I embarrassed the Reverend. Look, at him, he’s all like — (laughter).
Al was born in Forrest City, Arkansas, one of 10 kids packed into a two-bedroom house. In his early 20s, he signed with Hi Records and helped bring Memphis soul into the spotlight with songs like “Tired of Being Alone.”
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Mm-hmm.
THE PRESIDENT: Mm-hmm. “Let’s Stay Together,” “Take Me to the River.”
AUDIENCE: Mmm. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: They’re thinking about all those songs and how it brought people together. (Laughter.) In the 1970s, he became a pastor at his church in Memphis, and later he started churning out a string of gospel hits that earned him eight Grammys. And as the years passed, he’s woven together his gospel and soul careers, recently collaborating with the Roots, John Legend, and his Memphis neighbor, Justin Timberlake. And of course, he’s still singing from the pulpit on Sunday. As he says, “The greatest thing that ever happened to me…the little boy from Arkansas, was that amidst all the doubts…I found peace.” For the peace he found and the soul he has shared with all of us, tonight we honor the Reverend, Al Green. (Applause.)
On the night of Patricia McBride’s farewell performance at the New York City Ballet, the crowd showered her with 13,000 roses. Thankfully, they cut the thorns off first. (Laughter.) And that is fitting, because when you hear about Patricia, you hear about somebody who is all rose and no thorn; legendary for her good cheer, her sweetness, her unabashed joyfulness. And that personality translated to the stage, where her humor and grace was matched only by her power and stamina, and incredible athleticism. She’s one of the most versatile dancers we’ve ever seen.
Patricia became the principal dancer at the New York City Ballet when she was just 18 years old, the youngest to ever hold that role, and she kept at it for 28 years — longer than anybody else in history. By the time she was finished, some of our greatest choreographers had written dozens of pieces just for her — which is not bad for a shy young girl who grew up in the shadow of World War II, putting glue on the toes of her dance shoes to make them last longer.
She’s the daughter of a single mom who worked as a bank secretary in a day when most mothers didn’t work outside the home, who pinched pennies from that job and paid the 75 cents for each dance lesson. Today, Patricia hasn’t forgotten where she came from. She and her husband Jean-Pierre are in charge of the critically acclaimed Charlotte Ballet, which offers a program that gives dance scholarships to young people in need. So for sharing her spirit and her smile in so many ways, tonight we honor Patricia McBride. (Applause.)
In “Nine To Five,” Lily Tomlin plays an undervalued employee whose chauvinist boss steals her ideas and screams at her to get coffee. Finally, she and two coworkers get so fed up, they kidnap him. They get to work changing the office. Working moms get treated better. Productivity rises. The top brass are thrilled. It’s basically a live-action version of the working family policies I’ve been promoting for years. (Laughter and applause.) We’ve sent DVDs to all members of Congress to try to get them on the program. (Laughter.)
That role has Lily written all over it. It’s edgy, a little dark, but fundamentally optimistic. She’s created countless characters — from Ernestine, the telephone operator; to “Lucille the rubber freak;” to Edith Ann, the five-and-a-half-year-old philosopher — all of them kind of oddballs, like Lily — (laughter) — all portrayed with incredible warmth and affection, like Lily. She pushed boundaries, as well. On her 1973 variety show, “Lily,” she and Richard Pryor performed a skit called “Juke and Opal,” about two black folks hanging out in a diner. (Laughter.) One reviewer called it “the most profound meditation on race and class that I have ever seen on a major network” — which says something both about Lily and the major networks. (Laughter.) That was ad-libbed, by the way. (Laughter.) In her one-woman show, “The Search of Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe,” written by her brilliant partner, Jane Wagner — (applause) — yay, Jane — Lily played a dozen characters, transforming instantly into men and women, young, old, crazy and sane.
And this versatility has led to a flood of awards — Emmys, Tonys, a Grammy, Oscar nomination. She’s just inches away from an EGOT. And now she’s a Kennedy Center honoree. When asked what she hoped her tribute tonight would look like, she said, “What I’d like to see is a big stream of gay drag artists come out as Ernestine.” (Laughter and applause.) I haven’t talked to George Stevens. I don’t know whether this has been arranged. (Laughter.) Although, I’d like to see it, too. I think — (laughter.) But I can promise that your contributions to American stage and screen will live on. For her genius, her compassion, for just being funny, we honor tonight Lily Tomlin. (Applause.)
About 40 years ago, a young singer-songwriter named Gordon Sumner was known to wear a yellow and black striped sweater. Ever since, he’s been known by one name: Sting. Now, not everybody can pull off a name like Sting, but this guy can. His wife, Trudie, calls him Sting. Apparently his kids call him Sting. (Laughter.) “POTUS” is a pretty good nickname — (laughter) — but let’s face it, it’s not as cool as “Sting.” (Laughter.) I kind of wish I was called “Sting.” I’m stuck with “POTUS.” (Laughter.)
But everybody knows that Sting is more than just a name. He is an all-around creative force. There’s his singular voice on classics from The Police — “Roxanne,” “Every Breath You Take,” “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic.” There’s his incredible solo career — the songwriting that shape-shifts between rock and jazz and reggae, and rhythms drawn from all around the world. He’s acted in films. He’s topped the classical charts. He just opened a musical on Broadway. The guy once turned down a chance to be a Bond villain. Who does that? (Laughter.) Sting apparently. I mean, look at him — he’s too cool, right?
Because just being a celebrity was never Sting’s goal. This is a man who comes from humble roots. He’s the son of a milkman and a hairdresser. When he was a child, he was so tall that his classmates called him “Lurch.” They regret that now. (Laughter.) That’s payback right there. He’s here. You, whoever you are — you’re out there. (Laughter and applause.) Before he had any success as a singer, he had worked as a teacher, a construction worker, and in a tax office. And if a few things had gone differently, we could be living in a world with a really hip, cool tax clerk named Lurch. (Laughter.) Instead, we’ve got Sting — artist, truth-teller, a champion of human rights, a champion of our environment. And for all those reasons, and the fact that his music is spectacular and beautiful — for all those reasons, tonight we honor Sting. (Applause.)
One of four kids in his family in Concord, California, Tom Hanks once said his idea of a good time growing up was to take a bus to Sacramento. (Laughter.) In the years since, Tom has flown a rocket to outer space, he’s fallen in love with a mermaid, he’s faced down Somali pirates, mooned the President of the United States. (Laughter.) I’m glad he got that last one out of his system before this evening. (Laughter.)
Tom’s career began just like so many Hollywood legends — dressing in drag for a show called “Bosom Buddies” — (laughter) — kung-fu fighting The Fonz on “Happy Days.” But he first won our hearts in comedy, with big hits like “Big” and “Splash.” I did watch “Big” last night. That’s a great movie. I love that movie. Got kind of choked up at the end. And as the years passed, he told us “there’s no crying in baseball,” “life is like a box of chocolates.” He told “Houston, we have a problem.” And as a cartoon cowboy, he showed us we can always keep our faith in a little boy.
But Tom isn’t known simply for his characters — he’s known for his character. For his tremendous support of our veterans, he’s in the Army Ranger Hall of Fame. For his support of the space program, he has an asteroid named after him. Through Tom, we’ve seen our World War II heroes not simply in sepia-tones somewhere in the distance, but as they truly were: gritty, emotional, flawed, human. Through Tom, we saw the courageous faces behind an AIDS epidemic often overshadowed by stigma and bigotry. Through Tom, again and again, we’ve seen our passion and our resolve, and our love for each other. As his friend Steven Spielberg once said, “If Norman Rockwell were alive today, he would paint a portrait of Tom.”
And people have said that Tom is Hollywood’s everyman; that he’s this generation’s Jimmy Stewart or Gary Cooper. But he’s just Tom Hanks. And that’s enough. That’s more than enough. And for that, we honor him tonight — Mr. Tom Hanks. (Applause.)
So, Reverend Al Green; Patricia McBride; Lily Tomlin; Sting; Tom Hanks — charm, soul, spirit spunk — they’ve helped us better understand ourselves and each other. And, as President Kennedy expressed, they’ve helped us center our purpose as a nation, and together reflect the quality of our society. For that, we cannot thank them enough. We are so glad to be able to celebrate these extraordinary people. Thank you for everything that you’ve given to us over the years and for what you’re going to give us in the future.
Congratulations. God bless you all. Please join me in saluting one last time our extraordinary Kennedy Center Honorees for this evening. (Applause.)
5:28 P.M. EST
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 7, 2014
Full Text Obama Presidency December 4, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony — Transcript
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the President at National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Source: WH, 12-4-14
6:12 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Merry Christmas, everybody! (Applause.) We saw this party going on out back and we thought we’d join you.
I want to thank Secretary Jewell for not only the introduction but for all that you and everybody who is part of the Interior Department and the Park Service do to protect the magnificent outdoors for our children and for future generations. And I want to thank Jonathan Jarvis, Dan Wenk, and everybody at the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation for putting on this special event each and every holiday season.
I want everybody to give it up for our charming Christmas hosts tonight, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. (Applause.) We have so enjoyed the incredible performers, including the one and only Patti LaBelle. (Applause.) And, finally, thanks to all of you who are here and watching at home for joining us to celebrate this wonderful holiday tradition.
Back in 1923, school kids here in Washington wrote a letter to the White House asking if they could put a Christmas tree on the South Lawn. And more than 90 years and a few different evergreens later — (laughter) — the National Christmas Tree still stands as a symbol of hope and holiday spirit, and we still gather as a country each year to light it.
We still have school kids involved, too. But this year, they’ve given all the state and territory trees surrounding the National Christmas Tree their first digital upgrade. Young women from all 50 states used their computers — using their coding skills to control the colors and patterns of the lights on the trees. (Applause.) So thanks to those wonderful students. It is incredibly impressive. It’s actually one of the few things that Tom Hanks cannot do. (Laughter.)
But while lighting the tree has entered into the 21st century, the story that we remember this season dates back more than 2,000 years. It’s the story of hope –- the birth of a singular child into the simplest of circumstances -– a child who would grow up to live a life of humility, and kindness, and compassion; who traveled with a message of empathy and understanding; who taught us to care for the poor, and the marginalized, and those who are different from ourselves. And more than two millennia later, the way he lived still compels us to do our best to build a more just and tolerant and decent world.
It is a story dear to my family as Christians, but its meaning is one embraced by all peoples across our country and around the world, regardless of how they pray, or whether they pray at all. And that’s to love our neighbors as ourselves. To be one another’s keepers. To have faith in one another, and in something better around the bend. Not just at Christmastime, but all the time.
And, finally, this Christmas, we count our blessings and we give thanks to the men and women of our military who help make those blessings possible. And as we hold our loved ones tight, let’s remember the military families whose loved ones are far from home. They are our heroes, and they deserve our heartfelt gratitude and our wholehearted support. (Applause.)
So on behalf of Michelle, Malia, Sasha, mom-in-law — (laughter) — and our reindeer Bo and Sunny — (laughter) — I want to wish all of them and I want to wish all of you a very, very merry Christmas, and a holiday filled with joy.
God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.
6:17 P.M. EST
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 4, 2014
Political Musings November 30, 2014: Elizabeth Lauten’s attack on Malia and Sasha Obama turns into Twitter partisan war on Jenna Bush
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 30, 2014
Political Musings November 29, 2014: Obama family celebrates Thanksgiving, begin Christmas season at the White House
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 29, 2014
Political Musings November 3, 2014: History proves Michelle, Barack Obama divorce talk is probably just that rumors
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 3, 2014
Political Musings November 1, 2014: Just a rumor Michelle Obama will not run for California Senate seat in 2018
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 1, 2014
Political Musings October 31, 2014: Obama celebrates Halloween with devilish cake, White House trick-or-treat party
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 31, 2014
Full Text Obama Presidency September 24, 2014: First Lady Michelle Obama’s Speech at the United Nations Global Education First Initiative — Transcript
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the First Lady at United Nations Global Education First Initiative
Source: WH, 9-24-14
New York, New York
3:37 P.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: Good afternoon. It is truly a pleasure and an honor to join you today for the third annual Global Education First Initiative event.
Let me start by thanking Chernor for that just touching, very powerful, beautiful introduction. Let’s give him a round of applause. That was amazing. (Applause.) I do not feel worthy. But I’m very proud of you and all of the other youth advocates for the tremendous work that you all are doing. You make me proud.
I also want to recognize Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson; UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova; U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown; and, of course, the GEFI Champion Countries and Partners.
But most of all, I want to thank all of you for your visionary work on global education, particularly on the issue I want to discuss today –- an issue which is the focus of my international work as First Lady of the United States -– and that is providing quality education for girls around the world.
Now, we have made tremendous progress on this issue, particularly on primary education. Thanks to leaders like all of you, as of 2012, every developing region in the world had achieved, or was close to achieving, gender parity in primary education. And this is a stunning accomplishment, and we should all be proud of how far we’ve come.
But we shouldn’t be satisfied. Because while the benefits of primary education are real and meaningful, we know that if we truly want to transform girls’ lives, if we truly want to give them the tools to shape their own destinies, then primary education often just isn’t enough.
We know that if we want girls to marry later, raise healthier children, earn good wages, then we need to send them to school through adolescence. But we also know that adolescence marks the critical moment when a girl starts to develop from a child into a woman; when she is first subjected to the norms and prejudices that her society holds around gender. And that is precisely when the issue of quality education truly starts to get hard.
At that point in a girl’s life, it is no longer enough to simply talk about building schools and buying supplies, because when it comes to educating adolescent girls the real challenge isn’t just about resources, it’s about attitudes and beliefs. It’s about whether fathers and mothers think their daughters are as worthy of an education as their sons. It’s about whether communities value young women for their minds, or only for the reproductive and labor capacities of their bodies. It’s also about whether all of us are willing to confront the complex, sensitive issues that keep so many adolescent girls out of school –- issues like early and forced marriage, and genital cutting; issues like domestic violence and human trafficking.
In other words, we cannot talk about quality education for adolescent girls or hope to make meaningful and lasting progress on this issue unless we’re willing to have a much bigger and bolder conversation about how women are viewed and treated in the world today.
Now, as Chernor said, this conversation is deeply personal for me as a woman. I know that I stand before you today because of the people in my life, particularly the men -– men like my father, grandfathers, uncles who valued me, who invested in me from the day I was born; men who pushed me to succeed in school, insisted that I have the same opportunities as my brother, urging me to find a husband who would treat me as an equal.
The issue of secondary education for girls is also personal to me as a mother. And I know that’s true for many of you here today as well. So many of us are parents and grandparents, and who among us would accept our daughters and granddaughters getting only a primary education? Who among us would accept our precious girls being married off to grown men at the age of 12, becoming pregnant at 13, being unable to support themselves financially, confined to a life of dependence, fear and abuse?
None of us in this room would ever dream of accepting that kind of life for our daughters or granddaughters. So why would we accept this for any girl in our country, or any girl on this planet?
To answer this question, all of us -– men and women here in this room and around the world –- we must do some serious self-reflection. We must look inside ourselves and ask, do we truly value women as equals, or do we see them as merely second-class citizens? We must look around at our societies and ask, are we clinging to laws and traditions that serve only to oppress and exclude, or are we working to become more equal, more free?
These are the very questions we are asking ourselves every day here in the United States. Because while we’ve made tremendous progress in areas like college graduation rates and workforce participation, women here are still woefully underrepresented in our government and in the senior ranks of our corporations.
We still struggle with violence against women and harmful cultural norms that tell women how they are expected to look and act. And we still have plenty of work to do here in America to provide a quality education and opportunity for girls and boys, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. But as we consider all the challenges we face in our countries and in countries across the globe, we must also reflect on the tremendous progress we’ve made.
Just think about where we were just 15 years ago on this issue. Back then, if I had told you that in a little over a decade, we would see nearly 56 million more girls going to school, you would have told me I was dreaming. But that is precisely what has happened because of people like all of you. It’s happened because of your fierce devotion to those girls’ promise and your relentless efforts to transform their lives.
And if we truly believe that every girl in every corner of the globe is worthy of an education as our own daughters and granddaughters are, then we need to deepen our commitment to these efforts. We need to make even more commitments and investments like the ones we’re announcing this week –- programs to provide scholarships and hygiene facilities in schools; public awareness campaigns to change attitudes about our girls; efforts to collect data on how girls learn, and so much more.
We also need to fight even harder to ensure that quality education for every child and the empowerment of women and girls are dedicated goals on our Post-2015 Development Agenda — yes, absolutely. (Applause.) Keeping our girls safe on their way to school, teaching them relevant skills once they’re there, and ensuring they graduate from secondary school — all of these things must be a part of our agenda. Addressing gender-based violence in all of its forms –- from domestic violence, to genital cutting, to early and forced marriages –- all of that needs to be on the agenda too.
Because girls around the world deserve so much better. They do. They are so eager to learn. And so many of them are sacrificing so much just for the chance to get an education. I’m thinking about girls like Malala. I’m thinking about those brave girls in Nigeria. I’m thinking about all the girls who will never make the headlines who walk hours to school each day, who study late into the night because they are so hungry to fill every last bit of their God-given potential.
If we can show just a tiny fraction of their courage and their commitment, then I know we can give all of our girls an education worthy of their promise. And let me just say this — in the years and decades ahead, I am so very eager to engage even more deeply with leaders in this room, across the United States and around the world on this issue until every young woman on our planet has the opportunity to learn and grow and thrive.
Thank you very much. God bless. (Applause.)
3:48 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 28, 2014
Full Text Obama Presidency July 4, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech at White House Fourth of July Celebration
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the President at Fourth of July Celebration
Source: WH, 7-4-14
Watch the Video
5:56 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! (Applause.) Happy Fourth of July! Welcome to the White House!
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you!
MRS. OBAMA: You’re welcome!
THE PRESIDENT: No, thank you. (Laughter.)
Now, this little party is something we’ve been doing every year, because there’s no group that we’d rather spend time with on this most American of holidays than with you — the extraordinary men and women of America’s military. And because of you, we’re safe, we’re free. We depend on you for our way of life, and the sacrifices you make are extraordinary.
Now, in the house we’ve got Army. (Applause.) We’ve got Navy. (Applause.) We’ve got Air Force. (Applause.) We’ve got Marines. (Applause.) We’ve got Coast Guard. (Applause.) And, most important, we’ve got the incredible spouses and children — give it up for our outstanding military families. (Applause.)
To help us celebrate, we’ve got our outstanding Marine Band. (Applause.) Later on, we’re going to bring out Pitbull and his band. (Applause.) So we want to see if you like to party. (Laughter.) And, of course, this is always a special day for us because this is Malia’s birthday. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: She can get her license!
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, she’s going to get her license. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: She is. She’s getting her license, but she has to practice a little bit before that happens. (Laughter.)
Now, this is a gorgeous day. We want you to enjoy yourselves, so I’m going to keep my remarks brief. But it is important to remember why we’re here.
Two hundred and thirty-eight years ago, our founders came together and declared a new nation and a revolutionary idea –the belief that we are all created equal; that we’re free to govern ourselves; that each of us is entitled to life and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
And in the generations that have followed — through war and peace, through depression and prosperity — these truths have guided us as we have built the greatest democratic, economic, and military force the world has ever known.
So today, immigrants from around the world dream of coming to our shores. Young people aspire to study at our universities. Other nations look to us for support and leadership in times of disaster, and conflict, and uncertainty. And when the world looks to America, so often they look to all of you –- the men and women of our Armed Forces. Every day, at home and abroad, you’re working to uphold those ideals first declared in that Philadelphia hall more than two centuries ago. Every day, you give meaning to that basic notion that as Americans we take care of each other. And so today, we honor all of you.
And we salute some of the folks who are here with us on this balcony. We salute our soldiers — like Chief Warrant Officer Tom Oroho, who has served this nation in uniform for 27 years, including deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Two summers ago, Tom was at the beach, saw a young girl and her father who had been swept out to sea, and jumped into dangerous riptide and pulled them back to safety. That’s the kind of service we expect from our outstanding soldiers. Please give it up for Tom. (Applause.) Thank you.
We salute our sailors — like Seaman Reverlie Thomas, who came to America 21 years ago from Trinidad. She served a tour in the Persian Gulf for the Navy. Just a few hours ago here at the White House, I was proud to welcome Seaman Thomas and 24 other servicemembers and military spouses as our newest American citizens. Thank you Reverlie, and congratulations. (Applause.)
We salute our airmen — like Technical Sergeant Cheryl Uylaki, who manages the Fisher House at Dover Air Force Base, ensuring the families of our fallen are always provided comfort and care worthy of their profound sacrifice. We’re so grateful to you, Cheryl, for your great work. (Applause.)
We salute our Marines — like Sergeant Isaac Gallegos, who was severely wounded after an IED explosion in Iraq eight years ago. He suffered burns on almost every inch of his face. He was pronounced dead three separate times. Undergone 161 surgeries. But he is here standing with us today, pursuing a Master’s degree, working full-time for the Navy. That’s what we’re talking about when we talk about Marines. Give it up for Isaac. (Applause.)
We salute our Coasties — like Lieutenant Commander Sean Plankey, who helped lead a cyber team in Afghanistan that supported our troops during firefights and helped prevent the detonation of remote-controlled IEDs, saving countless lives. So thank you, Sean. (Applause.)
And we salute our military families — the spouses who put their careers on hold for their loved ones; the children who pick up extra chores while Mom or Dad is deployed; the siblings and parents and extended family members who serve the country every single day. You’re the reason Michelle and Jill Biden started the Joining Forces initiative — to make sure America is supporting you, too. And today we honor your service here today. (Applause.)
So as we pause on this Fourth of July to celebrate what makes us American, we salute all of you whose service and sacrifice renews that promise of America every single day. On behalf of the entire country, Michelle and I simply want to say thank you to all of you for your courage and your strength, and your unending service to this nation.
Happy Fourth of July, everybody. Have a great party. Have a hotdog. Have a hamburger. We want to see you dancing. God bless you all, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.) Thank you.
6:05 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 4, 2014
Full Text Obama Presidency June 7, 2014: First Lady Michelle Obama’s Remarks at Memorial Service for Dr. Maya Angelou
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the First Lady at Memorial Service for Dr. Maya Angelou
Source: WH, 6-7-14
Wait Chapel at Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
11:42 A.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: Thank you so much. (Applause.) My heart is so full. My heart is so full. Bebe — Oprah, why did you do that? Just why did you put me after this? (Laughter.)
To the family, Guy, to all of you; to the friends; President Clinton; Oprah; my mother, Cicely Tyson; Ambassador Young — let me just share something with you. My mother, Marian Robinson, never cares about anything I do. (Laughter.) But when Dr. Maya Angelou passed, she said, you’re going, aren’t you? I said, well, Mom, I’m not really sure, I have to check with my schedule. She said, you are going, right? (Laughter.) I said, well, I’m going to get back to you but I have to check with the people, figure it out. I came back up to her room when I found out that I was scheduled to go, and she said, that’s good, now I’m happy. (Laughter.)
It is such a profound honor, truly, a profound honor, to be here today on behalf of myself and my husband as we celebrate one of the greatest spirits our world has ever known, our dear friend, Dr. Maya Angelou.
In the Book of Psalms it reads: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the Earth.” What a perfect description of Maya Angelou, and the gift she gave to her family and to all who loved her.
She taught us that we are each wonderfully made, intricately woven, and put on this Earth for a purpose far greater than we could ever imagine. And when I think about Maya Angelou, I think about the affirming power of her words.
The first time I read “Phenomenal Woman”, I was struck by how she celebrated black women’s beauty like no one had ever dared to before. (Applause.) Our curves, our stride, our strength, our grace. Her words were clever and sassy; they were powerful and sexual and boastful. And in that one singular poem, Maya Angelou spoke to the essence of black women, but she also graced us with an anthem for all women –- a call for all of us to embrace our God-given beauty.
And, oh, how desperately black girls needed that message. As a young woman, I needed that message. As a child, my first doll was Malibu Barbie. (Laughter.) That was the standard for perfection. That was what the world told me to aspire to. But then I discovered Maya Angelou, and her words lifted me right out of my own little head.
Her message was very simple. She told us that our worth has nothing to do with what the world might say. Instead, she said, “Each of us comes from the creator trailing wisps of glory.” She reminded us that we must each find our own voice, decide our own value, and then announce it to the world with all the pride and joy that is our birthright as members of the human race.
Dr. Angelou’s words sustained me on every step of my journey –- through lonely moments in ivy-covered classrooms and colorless skyscrapers; through blissful moments mothering two splendid baby girls; through long years on the campaign trail where, at times, my very womanhood was dissected and questioned. For me, that was the power of Maya Angelou’s words –- words so powerful that they carried a little black girl from the South Side of Chicago all the way to the White House. (Applause.)
And today, as First Lady, whenever the term “authentic” is used to describe me, I take it as a tremendous compliment, because I know that I am following in the footsteps of great women like Maya Angelou. But really, I’m just a beginner — I am baby-authentic. (Laughter.) Maya Angelou, now she was the original, she was the master. For at a time when there were such stifling constraints on how black women could exist in the world, she serenely disregarded all the rules with fiercely passionate, unapologetic self. She was comfortable in every last inch of her glorious brown skin.
But for Dr. Angelou, her own transition was never enough. You see, she didn’t just want to be phenomenal herself, she wanted all of us to be phenomenal right alongside her. (Applause.) So that’s what she did throughout her lifetime -– she gathered so many of us under her wing. I wish I was a daughter, but I was right under that wing sharing her wisdom, her genius, and her boundless love.
I first came into her presence in 2008, when she spoke at a campaign rally here in North Carolina. At that point, she was in a wheelchair, hooked up to an oxygen tank to help her breathe. But let me tell you, she rolled up like she owned the place. (Laughter.) She took the stage, as she always did, like she’d been born there. And I was so completely awed and overwhelmed by her presence I could barely concentrate on what she was saying to me.
But while I don’t remember her exact words, I do remember exactly how she made me feel. (Applause.) She made me feel like I owned the place, too. She made me feel like I had been born on that stage right next to her. And I remember thinking to myself, “Maya Angelou knows who I am, and she’s rooting for me. So, now I’m good. I can do this. I can do this.” (Applause.)
And that’s really true for us all, because in so many ways, Maya Angelou knew us. She knew our hope, our pain, our ambition, our fear, our anger, our shame. And she assured us that despite it all –- in fact, because of it all -– we were good. And in doing so, she paved the way for me and Oprah and so many others just to be our good, old, black-woman selves. (Applause.)
She showed us that eventually, if we stayed true to who we are, then the world would embrace us. (Applause.) And she did this not just for black women, but for all women, for all human beings. She taught us all that it is okay to be your regular old self, whatever that is –- your poor self, your broken self, your brilliant, bold, phenomenal self.
That was Maya Angelou’s reach. She touched me. She touched all of you. She touched people all across the globe, including a young white woman from Kansas who named her daughter after Maya, and raised her son to be the first black President of the United States. (Applause.)
So when I heard that Dr. Angelou had passed, while I felt a deep sense of loss, I also felt a profound sense of peace. Because there is no question that Maya Angelou will always be with us, because there was something truly divine about Maya. I know that now, as always, she is right where she belongs.
May her memory be a blessing to us all. Thank you. God bless. (Applause.)
11:53 A.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on June 7, 2014
Full Text Obama Presidency May 11, 2014: Weekly Address: First Lady Michelle Obama Marks Mother’s Day and Speaks Out on the Tragic Kidnapping in Nigeria
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Weekly Address: The First Lady Marks Mother’s Day and Speaks Out on the Tragic Kidnapping in Nigeria
Source: WH, 5-10-14
In this week’s address, First Lady Michelle Obama honored all mothers on this upcoming Mother’s Day and offered her thoughts, prayers and support in the wake of the unconscionable terrorist kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls.
Remarks of First Lady Michelle Obama
May 10, 2014
Hello everyone, I’m Michelle Obama, and on this Mother’s Day weekend, I want to take a moment to honor all the mothers out there and wish you a Happy Mother’s Day.
I also want to speak to you about an issue of great significance to me as a First Lady, and more importantly, as the mother of two young daughters.
Like millions of people across the globe, my husband and I are outraged and heartbroken over the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls from their school dormitory in the middle of the night.
This unconscionable act was committed by a terrorist group determined to keep these girls from getting an education – grown men attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls.
And I want you to know that Barack has directed our government to do everything possible to support the Nigerian government’s efforts to find these girls and bring them home.
In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters. We see their hopes, their dreams – and we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now.
Many of them may have been hesitant to send their daughters off to school, fearing that harm might come their way.
But they took that risk because they believed in their daughters’ promise and wanted to give them every opportunity to succeed.
The girls themselves also knew full well the dangers they might encounter.
Their school had recently been closed due to terrorist threats…but these girls still insisted on returning to take their exams.
They were so determined to move to the next level of their education…so determined to one day build careers of their own and make their families and communities proud.
And what happened in Nigeria was not an isolated incident…it’s a story we see every day as girls around the world risk their lives to pursue their ambitions.
It’s the story of girls like Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan.
Malala spoke out for girls’ education in her community…and as a result, she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman while on a school bus with her classmates.
But fortunately Malala survived…and when I met her last year, I could feel her passion and determination as she told me that girls’ education is still her life’s mission.
As Malala said in her address to the United Nations, she said “The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”
The courage and hope embodied by Malala and girls like her around the world should serve as a call to action.
Because right now, more than 65 million girls worldwide are not in school.
Yet, we know that girls who are educated make higher wages, lead healthier lives, and have healthier families.
And when more girls attend secondary school, that boosts their country’s entire economy.
So education is truly a girl’s best chance for a bright future, not just for herself, but for her family and her nation.
And that’s true right here in the U.S. as well…so I hope the story of these Nigerian girls will serve as an inspiration for every girl – and boy – in this country.
I hope that any young people in America who take school for granted – any young people who are slacking off or thinking of dropping out – I hope they will learn the story of these girls and recommit themselves to their education.
These girls embody the best hope for the future of our world…and we are committed to standing up for them not just in times of tragedy or crisis, but for the long haul.
We are committed to giving them the opportunities they deserve to fulfill every last bit of their God-given potential.
So today, let us all pray for their safe return… let us hold their families in our hearts during this very difficult time…and let us show just a fraction of their courage in fighting to give every girl on this planet the education that is her birthright. Thank you.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 10, 2014
Full Text Obama Presidency April 21, 2014: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Remarks at the 2014 White House Easter Egg Roll
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the President and the First Lady at the Easter Egg Roll
Source: WH, 4-21-14
Watch the Video
10:34 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, hello everybody. Is everybody having fun? (Applause.) Happy Easter. This is the biggest event that we have at the White House all year long and it is our most fun event, because we have a chance to see families from all across the country coming through here. My main and only job, other than officiating over the roll at some point, is to introduce, alongside the Easter Bunny, the person who makes this all possible — we love her dearly — my wife, the First Lady, Michelle Obama. (Applause.)
MRS. OBAMA: Thank you, honey. Hey, everybody. Happy Easter Egg Roll Day. Isn’t this exciting? It is so wonderful to have so many of you here today. We are celebrating the 136th Easter Egg Roll. The theme of this year’s roll is “Hop Into Health, Swing Into Shape.” Yes, I love it.
And it’s going to be a great day. We have beautiful weather, because the Easter Egg Roll is blessed. And we’re going to have fun stuff going on. We’ve got the Egg Roll. We’ve got some storytelling. We’ve got entertainment. We’ve got wonderful athletes and performers like Cam and so many others. We’ve got obstacle courses and yoga and face painting and egg hunts. It’s just going to be terrific. As Barack said, we love this event. This is the largest event that we do here on the South Lawn. We’re going to have more than 30,000 people on the lawn today.
And we’re just thrilled that this theme is focusing on one issue that is near and dear to my heart, and it’s making sure that our young people are active and healthy. So while you’re here, parents, look around. You’re going to learn how to make healthy snacks that the kids will actually eat. I’m going to be over there on the chef’s stage doing some demonstrations.
And I want to make sure that kids know that healthy eating and being active can be fun, because what today is about is having a whole lot of fun. And I hope you all do that, because we want our kids to be the healthiest and the strongest they can be, so they can do well in school and live up to all of their God-given potential. Isn’t that right, parents? That’s what we want for you all. (Applause.)
And we want to thank the Easter Bunny, as always, for being here. And I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the hundreds of volunteers who make today possible. (Applause.) Thank you to our volunteers who have been out here setting up the South Lawn, who are going to make sure you guys get through these activities and have a great time.
So you all just enjoy. That’s all you have to do from this point on, is have fun. And we’ll be down there to participate in the Egg Roll. The President is going to read. I’m going to read a little bit. So we’ll meet you down on the South Lawn, okay?
All right. Have a great time. Bye-bye. (Applause.)
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 22, 2014
Full Text Obama Presidency April 3, 2014: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Remarks at Team USA’s Visit – 2014 Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Athletes
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the President and the First Lady at Visit of the 2014 Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Athletes
Source: WH, 4-3-14
Watch the Video
2:55 P.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: Hey, everybody. (Laughter.) Welcome to the White House! (Applause.) I know you guys have been standing for a while, but you’re athletes, you can handle it. (Laughter.)
We are so excited to have Team USA here with us today. But before we begin, I just want to take a moment to acknowledge the Fort Hood community that, as many of you know, has experienced yet another devastating tragedy. And we just want to make sure that folks there know that our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who lost loved ones and friends, as well as those that were injured.
Because I know that many of the athletes here today are veterans themselves, and when something like this happens, it touches all of us. I know that the President and I are just torn apart when things like this happen. So today, as we celebrate the Olympic spirit, we remember that the same spirit — the spirit of hard work and team work — is shared by our military men and women, and we stand with them today and every day.
So, now, let’s get into the you-guys thing. (Laughter.) After watching you guys all over TV all these couple of months, I have to say that I am truly amazed. I shared some of this with you guys in the receiving line. You all are so talented. You’re dedicated, and honestly, sometimes I don’t know how you do it. I really don’t.
I’ve watched you guys do some of the craziest stuff. That’s the thing with the Winter Olympics. You guys do crazy things — careening down the face of mountains — craziness. (Laughter.) Throwing each other up in the air, it’s like — the mixed-pair skaters, the women, they’re teeny. The big guys take them and throw them, just throw them across the ice. I’m like, are you kidding me? (Laughter.) You threw her so hard and she lands on one foot on a blade. And those of you jumping on those cookie sheet things and just sliding down a mountain — (laughter) — 80 miles an hour — I mean, who thinks of that? (Laughter.)
So I am really in awe of everything you do, as so many people here in America and across the globe are. Again and again, you all showed us that being an Olympian is about heart; it’s about guts; and it’s about giving it your all no matter what stands in your way. And that’s a message that I try to convey to young people all the time — the idea that if you work hard and commit yourselves to a goal, and then pick yourself up when you fall, that there is nothing that you can’t achieve.
And as Olympic and Paralympic athletes, you also know that a big part of reaching your full potential is making sure that you’re putting the right fuel in your body. You all know that better than anyone in this country, that what you eat absolutely makes a difference in how you perform.
And that’s another message that I try to spread to our young people, the importance of healthy eating and staying active. So I want to thank all of you who taped a video for our Let’s Move campaign earlier today. Thank you so much for making that happen. And I want to give a special thank you to the USOC for their work to give over 2 million young people opportunities to get active in their communities. We are so grateful for that, work, and we’re grateful for the example you all set for our young people.
In so many different ways, you all are inspiring folks across the country not just every four years but every single day. And nowhere have I seen that more clearly than in the story of someone that I met here at the White House four years ago under far different circumstances.
Lt. Commander Dan Cnossen was seated next to me at a dinner with leaders of our military. And I just got to see Dan, and we were remarking — because we were in the Dip Room, the same room we had dinner in together, but just a few months earlier, Dan had been in Afghanistan. He was leading a platoon of Navy SEALs when he stepped on an IED. Dan lost both of his legs in the explosion, but he never lost that fighting spirit.
I will always remember Dan, because just four months after that explosion, he finished a half marathon in a wheelchair — four months after the explosion. On the one-year anniversary of his injury, he ran a mile on his prosthetics. Over the next few years, Dan stayed on active duty while in the Navy, earning medals in swimming and running events at the Warrior Games, and completing the New York City Marathon.
And today, four and a half years after his injury, Dan is proud to wear another one of our nation’s uniforms, and that is of Team USA. (Applause.) There’s Dan.
THE PRESIDENT: Dan is in the back there.
MRS. OBAMA: Dan is in the back.
THE PRESIDENT: Wave again, Dan. There’s Dan. (Applause.)
MRS. OBAMA: And I also got to meet Dan’s sister, who stayed by his side every single minute of his recovery and she was an important part of that recovery. And she’s a terrific woman, a nurse herself. And I’m glad to hear she’s doing well.
In Sochi, Dan inspired us all again by competing in the 15K biathlon and the 1 kilometer sitting cross-country spring. So Dan has come a long way in the four years that we met, and I know that his story and the stories of all our Olympians and Paralympians are nowhere near finished.
So keep it up. This is only the beginning. Many of you were here four years ago, and you told us you’d be back — and you’re back. So I know you’re already getting ready for that next four years. But in the meantime, we look forward to all that you’re going to do in this country and around the world to keep inspiring particularly young people to just live a little more like you all live and to show them that spirit of persistence.
So thank you all, again, for everything that you do. And I can’t wait to hear about everything that you will do in the years to come.
And with that, I’m going to turn it over to this guy next to me — (laughter) — who happens to be my husband, but, more importantly, is the President of the United States, Barack Obama. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Let’s, first of all, be clear: It is more important that I’m Michelle’s husband than that I’m President of the United States. (Laughter and applause.) I just want you to — I don’t want anybody to be confused. Many of you young people out there aren’t married yet, so I just want you to know — giving you some tips in terms of how to prioritize. (Laughter.)
Obviously, as Michelle mentioned, our thoughts right now in many ways are with the families at Fort Hood. These are folks who make such extraordinary sacrifices for us each and every day for our freedom. During the course of a decade of war, many of them have been on multiple tours of duty. To see unspeakable, senseless violence happen in a place where they’re supposed to feel safe, home base, is tragic. And obviously this is the second time that the Fort Hood community has been affected this way.
So we join that entire community in honoring those who lost their lives. Every single one of them was an American patriot. We stand with their families and their loved ones as they grieve. We are thinking about those who are wounded. We’re there to support them.
And as we learn more about what happened and why, we’re going to make sure that we’re doing everything in our power to keep our troops safe and to keep our troops strong, not just on the battlefield but also when they come home. They’ve done their duty, and they’re an inspiration. They’ve made us proud. They put on the uniform and then they take care of us, and we’ve got to make sure that when they come home we take care of them.
And that spirit of unity is what brings us here today — because we could not be prouder of Team USA. (Applause.) Team USA. I hope all of you made yourself at home. We double-checked to make sure that all the bathroom locks were working in case Johnny Quinn — (laughter) — tried to bust down one of these antique doors. We didn’t want that to happen. (Laughter.)
I want to recognize the members of Congress we have here with us, as well as Scott Blackmun and Larry Probst from the USOC, our fantastic delegations that represent the diversity and the values of our country so well. But most of all, we’re here just to celebrate all of you — our Olympians and Paralympians who brought home a total of 46 medals for the Red, White and Blue. (Applause.)
I understand that freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy also brought home a few stray dogs that he adopted. (Laughter.) That doesn’t count in the medal standings, but it tells you something about the freestyle skiers. (Applause.)
Over the past couple of months, we saw some dominating performances by Team USA. American women won more medals in the Olympics than women of any other nation. (Applause.) Way to go, women! (Applause.) Good job. The men swept the podium in slopestyle skiing and Paralympic snowboarding. (Applause.) There you go. Our women’s hockey team brought home the silver. (Applause.) Our men’s hockey team played a game for the ages with an epic shootout victory over the Russians. (Applause.)
I would personally like to thank all of our snowboarders and freestyle skiers for making newscasters across America say things like “air to fakie,” and the “back-to-back double cork 1260.” (Laughter.) I don’t know what that means, really, but I just wanted to say it. (Laughter.) I’m pretty sure I’m the first President to ever say that. (Applause.) I’m pretty sure that’s true. The back-to-back double cork 1260. (Laughter.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: It feels good.
THE PRESIDENT: Does it feel good? (Laughter.)
In Sochi, these athletes made plenty of history. You had 16-year-old Declan Farmer scoring three goals to help our sled hockey team become the first nation ever to win back-to-back gold medals. (Applause.) Hey! There he is. There he is. Hey! (Applause.)
Our men’s bobsled team became the first Americans in 62 years to medal in both the two-man and the four-man competition. (Applause.) Bobsledders — those are some tough guys, those bobsledders. Don’t mess with them. (Laughter.)
And then, Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest Olympian ever to win gold in the slalom, at just 18 years old. (Applause.) Where’s Mikaela? She’s back here somewhere. Wave a little bit. (Applause.)
MRS. OBAMA: She’s a little — she’s down low.
THE PRESIDENT: She’s down low. There she is. I knew she was here. I saw her. (Laughter.) Afterwards, she said she wants to win five gold in 2018. I do have to say, though, Mikaela, as somebody who was once told “you’re young but you should set your sights high,” I just got three words of advice: Go for it. (Applause.) We are confident you are going to be bringing back some more gold.
Thanks to years of lobbying from Team USA, women’s ski jumping was added as an Olympic sport, and they did outstanding. (Applause.) So women can fly just like men. Jessica Jerome said, “We have arrived. We are good at what we do. And we are a lot prettier than the boy jumpers.” (Laughter.) Which I can attest to — I’ve seen them. (Laughter.) She wasn’t lying.
So from our ski jumpers who fought for equality to the athletes and coaches who have served our country in uniform, like Dan, who we’re so proud of, these athletes all send a message that resonates far beyond the Olympic Village. And that’s always been the power of the Olympics — in going for the gold and pushing yourselves to be the best, you inspire the rest of us to try to, if not be the best, at least be a little better.
MRS. OBAMA: Get off the couch.
THE PRESIDENT: Just get off the couch. (Laughter.) That’s what Michelle said.
All of you remind us, just like the Olympic creed states, the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight. And I want to take the example of somebody who couldn’t be here today, but her story I think is typical of so many of yours. And this is Noelle Pikus-Pace. Noelle was hoping to be here, but she’s been on the road a lot, wanted to get back to her husband and her kids — and they may be watching us now.
But almost a decade ago, Noelle was on top of the world after winning the women’s skeleton World Cup. She was injured in a freak accident that cost her chances in 2006. In 2010, she missed the podium by one-tenth of a second. And after all of those Olympics, she retired to spend more time with her family. But then two years, ago her husband convinced her to go back on that sled, because raising a family and racing down the track don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
So since then, Noelle, her husband, her two young children traveled from competition to competition, living out of suitcases, seeing the world together. And in Sochi, it all paid off, and she took home the silver in the skeleton — jumping over the wall to celebrate with her family on the final run. And here’s what Noelle said afterwards: “Life is never going to go as planned. You have to decide, when you’re bumped off course, if it’s going to hold you back or move you forward.”
That’s the spirit we celebrate today. That’s something Dan understands. That’s something that all of you at some stages in your life have understood or will understand. Things aren’t always going to go perfect — and Michelle and I always remark, watching our Olympians, that you work hard for four years and then just a little something can happen. And you’re just that close, and the courage and the stick-to-itness, and the confidence, and the joy in competition that keeps you moving — that’s going to help you throughout life. It helps our country. It’s what America is all about. It’s why we are so proud to have you all here today.
And four years from now, I won’t be here to greet you but some President is going to. And I suspect that a lot of you may come back even four years after that. You guys have done a great job, and what an extraordinary achievement it is for all of you to have represented the United States of America at our Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Congratulations. Good job. (Applause.)
3:15 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 3, 2014
Full Text Obama Presidency March 7, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Education, College Opportunity and Federal Student Aid
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
A World-Class Education for Every Student in America
Today, President Obama and the First Lady visited Coral Reef High School in Miami to discuss the President’s plan to equip all Americans with the education they need to compete in the 21st century economy….READ MORE
Remarks by the President on Preparing for College
Source: WH, 3-7-14
Watch the Video
Coral Reef Senior High School
3:05 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Miami! (Applause.) Hello, Cuda Nation! (Applause.) Hello! It is good to be here at Coral Reef Senior High. (Applause.) You guys are just happy because it’s warm down here all the time. (Laughter.) I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the rest of the country is cold. (Laughter.) Listen, Michelle and I are so grateful for the warm welcome. It is great to be here. I want to thank some people who are doing outstanding work.
First of all, your superintendent, Superintendent Carvalho, is doing great work. We’re really proud of him. (Applause.) Your principal, Principal Leal, is doing great work. (Applause.) All the Coral Reef teachers and staff, you guys are all doing a great job. (Applause.) And you’re doing what is necessary to help young people get ready for college and careers. So that’s why we’re here. We are proud of what’s being done at this school.
I want to mention a few other folks who are here who are fighting on behalf of the people of South Florida every day. We’ve got Congressman Joe Garcia is here. (Applause.) We’ve got Congresswoman Frederica Wilson here. (Applause.) We’ve got Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez. Your former Governor Charlie Crist is here. (Applause.)
And most of all, I want to thank the people that Michelle and I came all the down here to see, and that is the students of Coral Reef. (Applause.) We had heard great things about your school. We had heard great things about the students. We wanted to come down here and just see what was going on. (Applause.) And Michelle and I just had a chance to visit with some of your classmates who are going through some of the scholarship applications, and we had a chance to talk to them and hear what their plans were. And first of all, Michelle and I looked and we said, these must be actors playing students, because they were all smart and good-looking and organized. (Laughter.) And I asked them, what are you going to do? And they’re — well, I’m going to be applying to business school, and then I’m going to start a company, and then I — when I was your age, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was lucky if I had gotten out of bed on time. (Laughter.) So you guys are ahead of the game.
And we’re here to tell you that you’ve got to keep up the good work, because by working hard every single day, every single night, you are making the best investment there is in your future. And we want to make sure you’ve got everything, all the tools you need to succeed. We want every young person to have the kinds of teachers and the kind of classes and the kind of learning experiences that are available to you here at Coral Reef. (Applause.) Because that’s the best investment we can make in America’s future. (Applause.)
Now, keep in mind, Michelle and I, we’re only here today because of the kind of education that we got. That was our ticket to success. We grew up a lot like many of you. I was raised by a single mom; she was a teenager when I was born. We moved around a lot, we did not have a lot of money, but the one thing she was determined to see was that my sister and I would get the best education possible.
And she would press me. Sometimes she’d make me wake up, do my lessons before I even went to school. She was not going to let me off the hook. And at the time, I wasn’t happy about it, but now I’m glad she pressed me like that. Because, thanks to my mother and my grandparents, and then great teachers and great counselors who encouraged me, and a country that made it possible for me to afford a higher education, I was able to go to college and law school.
And then when I met Michelle, I saw that — (applause) –there were a couple of things I noticed. I noticed she was smart. (Applause.) I noticed she was funny — she’s funny, she’s funnier than I am. (Laughter.) Obviously, I noticed she was cute, yes. (Applause.) But one of the things I also realized was, even though we had grown up in very different places, her story was a lot like mine. Her dad worked at a city water plant. He didn’t go to college. He was a blue-collar worker. Michelle’s mom — my mother-in-law, who I love to death — she was a secretary. No one in her family had gone to college. But because she had worked hard and her parents understood the value of education, and she had great teachers and great opportunities, and because the country was willing to invest to make sure that she was able to pay for college, she ended up going to some of the best universities in the country. (Applause.)
So the point is she and I have been able to achieve things that our parents, our grandparents would have never dreamed of. And that’s the chance this country should give every young person. That’s the idea at the heart of America. (Applause.)
What makes this country great, what makes it special when you look around, and Miami is a great example of it, you’ve got people coming from everywhere, every background, every race, every faith. But what binds us together is this idea that if you work hard, you can make it — that there’s opportunity for all. The belief that no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, no matter what your last name is, if you are responsible and put in the effort, you can succeed. There’s no limit to what you can do. That’s what America is all about. (Applause.)
Opportunity is what drew many of your parents and grandparents to America. And we’ve got to restore that idea for your generation, so that everybody has the same chance Michelle and I did. That’s why we’re working on what we call an opportunity agenda to create more jobs and train more workers with new skills; to make sure hard work is rewarded with a paycheck that supports a family; to make sure that everybody can get health care when they need it, so that nobody has to get into financial trouble because somebody in the family gets sick. (Applause.)
And for the students here, a lot of you, you may not think about these issues all the time. You’re spending a lot of time on homework and sports, and this and that. But you also oftentimes see your own family struggling and you worry about it. And one of the single-most important parts of our opportunity agenda is making sure that every young person in America has access to a world-class education — a world-class education. (Applause.) So that’s why we are here.
I believe we should start teaching our kids at the earliest ages. So we’re trying to help more states make high-quality preschool and other early learning programs available to the youngest kids. (Applause.) I believe that our K-12 system should be the best in the world. So we started a competition called Race to the Top, to encourage more states like Florida to raise expectations for students like you, because when we set high expectations, every single one of you can meet them. (Applause.) You’re recruiting and preparing the best teachers. You are turning around low-performing schools. You’re expanding high-performing ones. You’re making sure every student is prepared for college or a career.
I believe that every student should have the best technology. So we launched something we called ConnectED to connect our schools to high-speed Internet. And I want to congratulate Miami-Dade and your superintendent, because you have achieved your goal of installing wi-fi in every single one of your schools. (Applause.)
So the good news is, in part because of some of these reforms we’ve initiated, when you add it all up our nation’s high school graduation rate is the highest on record. The drop-out rate has been dropping, and among Latino students has been cut in half since 2000. (Applause.) Miami-Dade’s graduation rate is higher than it’s ever been. That’s all because of the efforts of so many people, including the parents and students who have been putting in the effort. It’s because of the teachers and administrators and staff who are doing such a great job. You should be proud. We’re making progress — we’re making progress. (Applause.)
Yes, you guys — by the way, you can all sit down. I didn’t realize everybody was still standing up. Sit down. Take a load off. You guys can’t sit down though, because you don’t have chairs, although bend your knees so you don’t faint. (Laughter.)
But here’s the key thing, Coral Reef: We still have more work to do, all of us — elected officials, principals, teachers, parents, students. Because, as Michelle says, education is a two-way street. Folks like us have to work hard to give you the best schools and support that you need. But then, you’ve got to hold up your end of the bargain by committing to your education. That means you’ve got to stretch your minds. You’ve got to push through subjects that aren’t always easy. And it means continuing your education past high school, whether that’s a two-year or a four-year college degree or getting some professional training.
So I want to talk about an easy step that high school students like you can take to make college a reality. And it’s something you already know here at Coral Reef, but I’m speaking to all the young people out there who may be watching. It’s called FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
It is a simple form. It used to be complicated; we made it simple. It doesn’t cost anything — that’s why the word “free” is right there in the name. (Laughter.) It does not take a long time to fill out. Once you do, you’re putting yourself in the running for all kinds of financial support for college — scholarships, grants, loans, work-study jobs.
For the past five years, we’ve been working to make college more affordable. We took on a college loan system that gave billions of dollars of taxpayer money to big banks to manage the student loan system. We said, we don’t need the banks, let’s give the money directly to students, we can help more students. (Applause.) We can help more students that way. So we expanded the grants that help millions of students from low-income backgrounds pay for college. We’re offering millions of people the chance to cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of their incomes once they graduate.
Today, more young people are earning college degrees than ever before. That’s a great thing. (Applause.) That is a great thing. But we still need to do more to help rein in the rising cost of tuition. We need to do more to help Americans who feel trapped by student loan debt — because no striving, hardworking, ambitious, young American should ever be denied a college education just because they can’t afford it — nobody. (Applause.)
Unfortunately, there are still a lot of young people all across the country who say the cost of college is holding them back. Some of you may have sat around the kitchen table with your parents wondering about whether you’ll be able to afford it. So FAFSA is by far the easiest way to answer that question. And I know the Barracudas know all about FAFSA. (Applause.) Last year, you had the second-highest completion rate of any large high school in the state. (Applause.) You should be proud of that. Your teachers and parents should be proud of that.
But last year, almost half of high school graduates in Florida didn’t fill out the FAFSA form.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: That ain’t right. (Laughter.) Not only is it not right, but it also ain’t right. (Laughter.) And as a result, they lost out on over $100 million in Pell grants. Think about that — $100 million that could have helped Florida students help pay for college was just left on the table. That’s just in Florida. Nationwide, over one million high school students did not fill out the FAFSA form. That happens every year.
So my challenge today to every high school student in America: Fill out the form. Even if you think you might not qualify for financial aid, fill out the form. You might qualify.
And we’re making it easier than ever. We put the FAFSA form online. We made it shorter. It takes about half an hour to fill out. And it could change the rest of your life. We’ve updated it to save your parents a lot of hassle as well. And today, I’m announcing another improvement.
Today, I’m directing the Department of Education to tell every governor that, starting today, they can, if they choose, confidentially let high school administrators know which students have filled out the FAFSA form and which haven’t. So that way, if Principal Leal wants to check in with the seniors —
AUDIENCE: Wooo —
THE PRESIDENT: I know, everybody is like, wow. (Laughter.) I know she’s already on top of stuff, but this way, she could check and seniors who had not filled it out, she could then help them answer the questions and figure out what’s holding her back — what’s holding them back.
Anybody will be able to go online and find out the number of students who have filled out the form at each high school, so we can track it. So if you want to have a friendly competition with Palmetto High or Miami Killian — (applause) — to see who can get a higher completion rate on your FAFSA, you can do that. (Applause.) You achieved the second-highest rate in the state, but I mean if you want to settle for number two, that’s okay — you might be able to get number one. (Applause.) Huh? I’m just saying you could go for number one. (Applause.)
So these are things I can do on my own, but I’m here to also tell you I need — I could use some help from folks in Washington. There are some things I don’t need Congress’s permission for, and in this year of action, whenever I see a way to act to help expand opportunity for young people I’m just going to go ahead and take it. I’m just going to go ahead and do it. (Applause.)
So earlier this year, Michelle and I hosted a College Opportunity Summit, where over 150 colleges and universities and nonprofits made commitments to help more low-income students get to college and graduate from college. (Applause.) But I’m also willing to work with anybody in Congress — Democrat, Republican, don’t matter — to make sure young people like you have a shot to success.
So a few days ago, I sent my budget to Congress. And budgets are pretty boring — but the stuff inside the budgets are pretty important. And my budget focuses on things like preschool for all; like redesigning high schools so students like you can learn real-world skills that businesses want — (applause) — like preparing more young people for careers in some of the fields of the future — in science and technology and engineering and math to discover new planets and invent robots and cure diseases — all the cool stuff that we adults haven’t figured out yet. (Laughter.)
These are not just the right investments for our schools; they’re the right priorities for our country. You are our priority. We’ve got to make sure we have budgets that reflect that you are the most important thing to this country’s success. If you don’t succeed, we don’t succeed. (Applause.)
We’ve got to make sure all of you are prepared for the new century, and we’ve got to keep growing our economy in other ways: attracting new high-tech jobs, reforming our immigration system — something Congressman Garcia is fighting for. (Applause.) And the rest of Congress needs to stop doing nothing, do right by America’s students, America’s teachers, America’s workers. Let’s get to work. Let’s get busy. (Applause.) We’ve got work to do. All of us have work to do — teachers, school counselors, principals, superintendents, parents, grandparents.
We all have work to do, because we want to see you succeed, because we’re counting on you, Barracudas. (Applause.) And if you keep reaching for success — and I know you will, just based on the small sampling we saw of students here — if you keep working as hard as you can and learning as much as you can, and if you’ve got big ambitions and big dreams, if you don’t let anybody tell you something is out of your reach, if you are convinced that you can do something and apply effort and energy and determination and persistence to that vision, then not only will you be great but this country will be great. (Applause.) Our schools will be great. (Applause.)
I want us to have the best-educated workforce in America. And I want it to be the most diverse workforce in the world. That’s what I’m fighting for. That’s what your superintendent and your principal are fighting for, and I hope that’s what you fight for yourselves. (Applause.) Because when I meet the students here at Coral Reef, I am optimistic about the future. Michelle and I walked out of that classroom, and we said, you know what, we’re going to be in good hands, we’re going to do okay. (Applause.) Because these young people are coming, and nobody is going to stop them.
Thank you, everybody. God bless you. God bless America. (Applause.)
3:25 P.M EST
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 7, 2014
Political Musings February 21, 2014: Michelle Obama celebrates Let’s Move’s fourth anniversary on Jimmy Fallon
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
OP-EDS & ARTICLES
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 21, 2014
Full Text Obama Presidency February 11, 2014: President Barack Obama and France’s President Francois Hollande’s Speeches at Arrival Ceremony
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Inside the French State Visit
This morning, President Obama, Vice President Biden, and the First Lady welcomed French President François Hollande to the White House – the first state visit by a French president in nearly 20 years….READ MORE
Remarks by President Obama and President Hollande of France at Arrival Ceremony
Source: WH, 2-11-14
9:25 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. Bonjour! That’s the extent of my French. (Laughter.) Few places in the world warm the heart like Paris in the spring. This morning, we’re going to do our best with Washington in the winter. (Laughter.)
France is America’s oldest ally, and in recent years we’ve deepened our alliance. And today, on behalf of the American people and Michelle and myself, it is a great honor to welcome my friend President Hollande and his delegation for their first state visit to the United States — in fact, the first state visit by a French President in nearly 20 years. (Applause.)
Yesterday at Monticello we reflected on the values that we share — the ideals at the heart of our alliance. Here, under the red, white and blue — and the blue, white and red — we declare our devotion once more to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” — to “liberté, egalité, and fraternité.” (Laughter and applause.)
For more than two centuries, we’ve not only proclaimed our ideals, our citizens have bled to preserve them, from a field in Yorktown to the beaches of Normandy to the mountains of Afghanistan. And today, we are honored to be joined by two extraordinary men who were there those historic days 70 years ago. I ask them to stand, proud veterans of D-Day who are here in attendance today. (Applause.)
So it’s no exaggeration that we stand here because of each other. We owe our freedom to each other. Of course, we Americans also thank our French friends for so much else — this capital city, designed by L’Enfant; our Statue of Liberty, a gift from France; and something many Americans are especially grateful for, New Orleans and the French Quarter. (Laughter.)
Mr. President, like generations before us, we now have the task not simply to preserve our enduring alliance, but to make it new for our time. No one nation can meet today’s challenges alone or seize its opportunities. More nations must step up and meet the responsibilities of leadership, and that is what the United States and France are doing together.
To our French friends, I say let’s do even more together, for the security that our citizens deserve, for the prosperity that they seek, and for the dignity of people around the world who seek what we declared two centuries ago — those “unalienable rights,” those “sacred rights of man.”
President Hollande, members of the French delegation, we are honored to have you here as one of our strongest allies and closest friends. Welcome to the United States. Bienvenue, mes amis. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT HOLLANDE: Mr. President, dear Barack, dear Michelle, ladies and gentlemen: It’s cold in Washington. (Laughter.) You’re right. But it’s a beautiful day, a great day for our American friends. And I will speak in French because I am obliged to do that for my country.
(As Interpreted.) We are received here, my delegation and myself, as friends. And I am particularly touched by this reception by the President of the United States. We are always united by a common history, from Yorktown to the beaches of Normandy. As you said so rightly, each of our countries knows what it owes to the other — its freedom.
Yesterday, we were in Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s residence — a great American statesman, once ambassador to France — who remains one of the most beautiful symbols of the ties that unite us. This afternoon, at the Arlington Cemetery, I shall award the Legion d’Honneur, the highest French distinction, to the American Unknown Soldier. And I shall present American veterans who fought in the Second World War with an award and I’d like to pay tribute to these men. (Applause.)
Thus doing, I wish to demonstrate the fact that France will never forget the spirit of sacrifice shown by these American soldiers, nameless heroes who left their homes to liberate my country and Europe. We shall pay tribute to them during the celebrations that will take place in France to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landing. And I hope, Barack, that you will join me on the 6th of June, 2014, 70 years after D-Day landing.
Our two countries hold universal values, values that inspired Eleanor Roosevelt and René Cassin to write together the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We stand together to fight terrorism. Today still, France and the United States stand side by side to make these values prevail. We stand together with the United States to address the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and chemical weapons; together to solve the crises faced by the Middle East; together to support Africa’s development; and together to fight global warming and climate change. (Applause.)
Today, we stand united and we have built a model of friendship –- a friendship that is the best recipe for a better world, a world such as the one that was dreamt by Thomas Jefferson and Lafayette. It is not just about friendship; it is about an alliance that will enable us to make this world a better place, a safer place, a more humane place.
Mr. President, I am proud to stand here. You are this great man of the United States of America and you represent the United States of America, a country where everything is possible for who wants it; a country devoted to freedom and equality. Long live the United States. Long live France. Long live the Franco-American friendship. (Applause.) Thank you.
9:39 A.M. EST
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 11, 2014
University Musings February 6, 2014: Princeton Review releases list of best value public and private colleges
EDUCATION & UNIVERSITY MUSINGS
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 6, 2014