2:07 P.M. EDT
DR. BIDEN: Good afternoon, everyone. And thank you all for being here. It’s great to have you at the White House. I want to thank my great friend and partner, First Lady Michelle Obama, who has done so much for military families. Thank you, Michelle. (Applause.)
Many of you know that I’m a proud military mom and grandmother, and I’m always honored to be in the presence of military families. My son, Beau, is a major in the Delaware National Army Guard, and when he deployed to Iraq it was a tough year for our family.
I know many of you in this room have faced similar challenges. Grandparents, moms and dads worry through deployments. Kids miss their parents. Throughout their service, children have to change schools, make new friends, join new sports teams. It can really be hard. I want all of you to know just how much we appreciate everything your families do in serving our country.
That’s why Michelle and I started our Joining Forces initiative to give something back to all of our nation’s military families. We’re working with Americans all across the country in every sector of society to find new ways to show our support. And Mother’s Day gives us a special opportunity to say thanks to the mothers who have shaped and supported us.
Now it is my great pleasure to introduce a military spouse and mom, Jennifer Pilcher. Jennifer’s husband, Eddie, is a pilot in the Navy who has been assigned to six different duty stations in the past 12 years. With each reassignment, Jennifer has packed up their home, their two children, and started over in a new community, all while enduring Eddie’s multiple deployments.
On top of all that, Jennifer recently co-founded militaryoneclick.com, a website that connects military families with important resources. You’ve been busy. (Laughter.) Jennifer, thank you for being here today, and thank you for your service. Happy Mother’s Day. (Applause.)
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MRS. OBAMA: Well, good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to the White House. It is a beautiful day. And I hope you all like your Mother’s Day surprises because they worked really hard on them in there. Very focused, very diligent, very creative. And if you want to know what the black stuff on their mouths are, they had a few of the cookies -- couldn’t help it. (Laughter.)
Well, let me start by thanking Jennifer for that very kind introduction and for everything that you and your team do for your family, for your community, and more importantly, for our entire country.
I also have to thank my partner in crime, Jill. She has been just a amazing friend and a role model for me of what it means to be a strong military mom. She is terrific and we have to give her a round of applause. (Applause.)
And it wouldn’t be a Mother’s Day tea if I didn’t thank my own mommy. Mommy -- there you are, who is here today. (Applause.) And it’s a big deal when grandma does anything. (Laughter.) So the fact that she’s sitting in that chair is a big testimony to her respect and admiration for all of you.
But I have said it before and I will say it again -- I would not be standing here if it weren’t for her. My mom is my rock, as many of you all know, and as many of these young people will understand what being a mom is. She is my rock. She has taught me to believe in myself, and more importantly, to pick myself up whenever I stumble.
She is always a shoulder to cry on and talk to, and I do that a lot. And she has always inspired me -- something I think is amazing for my mom -- to push myself to dream even bigger than anything she could ever dream for herself, and she has always done that. And it’s true today.
So for me, when I think of Mother’s Day, I think of my own mom. And this day wouldn’t be the same for me without her here. So when we were planning this event today to honor our nation’s mothers, we wanted to make sure that all of you could bring along those special people in your own lives, as well. And we’re thrilled to have a really wonderful group of moms and grandmas and sons and daughters who are here with us today at the White House.
As Jill and Jennifer pointed out, we have got military mothers here. And some of you are in our country’s uniform, as you can see. Some of you are married to someone who does wear a uniform. But all of you are outstanding role models for your children, for your communities and for this country.
For all of you -- and I say this a lot -- service isn’t just something that you do once in a while or during the holidays, it’s how you live your lives. Whenever there’s something going on in the community -- an opening on the PTA, or they need a leader to drive for the local car pool, or someone asks for volunteers, and then you’ve got that uncomfortable silence in the room -- (laughter) -- we all have been there. You all are the first ones to speak up and say, how can I help? No matter how busy you are with your own lives, you’re always filling in those gaps for your families and for the broader community. So let’s give a big round of applause to all of our military moms here today. (Applause.)
And another -- here’s to the grandmas here today. I want to say a special thank you to all of our grandmas here. Obviously, you all are mothers too, or else you wouldn’t be grandmothers. (Laughter.) That would be one of those obvious points that Malia would say, duh. (Laughter.) So, Sarah, my speechwriter -- duh. (Laughter.) And I can't begin to imagine what it must feel like to have your baby be far away from home and in harm’s way.
But your sons and daughters, their choice to serve this country is really a reflection of your love. It is. It’s a reflection of your strength and all the good decisions that you made in raising them. That we know. And I know that when a mom or dad is deployed, it often means that all of you grandparents, you're stepping up to help take care of your grandchildren -- you’re the first phone call when mom or dad gets tied up at work, and you’re often spending long weekends away from your own homes, filling in wherever needed. I know that's the case in our household.
But no matter what, you all are always, always there. And that is not just important for us as parents, but for the connection that you make with the next generation. It is so powerful. For that, this whole country is grateful. And that also means that you all are -- have earned the right to spoil your grandchildren as much as you want, which happens in my house. (Laughter.) What happens to the grandmothers, you know? You turn into just pieces of mush. (Laughter.)
Yes, I tell my children to eat my vegetables, and Grandma is like, why. (Laughter.) Why can't they have whatever they want? (Laughter.) And I’m like, these were the rules you -- these were your rules. (Laughter.) Don't you remember? No, no, I don't remember ever making you eat vegetables. Ever. (Laughter.) How many people have grandmas like that? (Laughter.) So, to all the grandmas, thank you. We love you. (Applause.)
And to all of our kids -- (applause) -- our kids. All of this, this day, all we do is for you. All of this, it’s for you. Not for us. We don't care. We don't matter. It’s for you. (Laughter.) And you’re so cute, and you look so good. (Laughter.)
I want you all to know just how special you all are -- really -- each and every one of you. And for all the kids out there, the military kids out there who will see this, you all are so special. And I know it isn’t easy when mom or dad is away for so long. I know it’s tough to have to be so grown up sometimes and pick up and move across the country and try to make new friends again, and again, and again. I can't imagine how tough that must be.
But I want you all to know that what you do every day, all the good things you do, the way you handle your business -- as I tell my kids -- picking up extra chores when mom or dad is gone; taking care of your brothers and your sisters -- because we know you love them even if you act like you don't. (Laughter.) We know this. Staying on top of your schoolwork, just being good people -- all of that makes you all heroes for this country too.
So today, we are here to celebrate all of you. Yay for our children. (Applause.) Keep up the good work. And no matter what Grandma says, eat your vegetables. (Laughter.) Eat your vegetables.
So tomorrow is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. May is National Military Appreciation Month, and we’re just a couple of days away from Mother’s Day. So now is really the perfect time to thank all of you for your service to this country. Every single day, you all are an inspiration to Jill and to me. Whenever we think we’re tired, we just remember your stories and it gets us up. You all are an inspiration to our husbands, more importantly, and you all are an inspiration to the entire country. And today I think you deserve to celebrate.
And with that, I think Jill and I are going to come down there and we’re going to take some pictures with all of you. We’re going to go table to table and say hello to every one of you. You all, happy Mother’s Day. Enjoy this day and all those to come.
2:23 P.M. EDT