7:45 P.M. EST
DR. BIDEN: Hello, everyone! (Applause.) Thank you for that wonderful introduction, Jaelen. I’m so proud of Jaelen, and I know you brought some other kids from Lee Hall Elementary. It’s so good to see all of you. (Applause.) Oh, they’re over there. And I want to thank your mom and your whole family for their service to our country.
J.R. Martinez, it is always wonderful to see you. Thank you for your service and all that you continue to do for our military families. The First Lady and I are so excited to be here with all these military kids.
I want to give a special welcome to some very brave kids from the Delaware Army National Guard 153rd Military Police Company. (Applause.) Just a few weeks ago, I was with them when their moms or dads were deployed to Afghanistan. I want you all to know that we are so proud of you and we will be here for you while your moms and dads are away.
The First Lady and I knew from the start that we wanted to celebrate the strength and service of our military families. That’s why we started Joining Forces -- our effort to encourage all Americans to find ways to honor and support our troops, veterans and military families. Joining Forces is especially important to me because I know something about being a military mom. Our son Beau is a major in the Delaware Army National Guard, and he was deployed to Iraq for a year. Beau has two children, Natalie and Hunter, so I know -- (applause) -- thank you -- so I know firsthand just how important it is for a child to have everyone’s support -- their friends, their teachers, and their entire community -- when mom or dad is away.
So we want tonight to be one special way that our country shows all of you just how much we appreciate everything you’re doing for our country. And we are so excited to be here with you tonight, here with everyone.
Now I would like to introduce someone else who is so proud of you and excited to be here. She’s been working so hard for military families. Please welcome my great friend and partner, First Lady Michelle Obama. (Applause.)
MRS. OBAMA: Wow. Thank you so much. Thank you, Jill. Big hand to Jill, my partner. (Applause.) How is everybody doing? (Applause.) Are you guys having fun? (Applause.) Are you excited to be here for the inauguration? (Applause.) Well, we are all excited that you could join us tonight, both here in Washington and from all across the country and around the world by video.
We’ve got kids from Fort Hood that are here. (Applause.) We’ve got folks who have joined us from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. They’re in the house. (Applause.) We have folks from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base here. (Applause.) We’ve got folks from Camp Pendleton who are here with us. (Applause.) And we’ve got Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater here as well. (Applause.) Yes!
And for the wonderful kids from Naval Air Station Sigonella who led the Pledge of Allegiance -- (applause) -- yes! -- we have some very special guests that are here as well -- your parents! (Applause.) Those are your parents. So let’s give them a round of applause. We’ve beamed them in. (Applause.) They’re right there. Wave to them. They can see you. (Applause.)
Now, inauguration is a pretty big deal. The President and the Vice President are sworn in. There are all these inaugural balls, everybody dresses up and dances. We had a wonderful day of service today, and hundreds of thousands of people come from all 50 states to join in the celebration. And let me tell you, I love every single minute of it. Every single minute. But I have to tell you that my very favorite part of this entire weekend is being right here with all of you. (Applause.) Absolutely. Because for me, this is what inauguration is all about. It’s about celebrating who we are as Americans and all the things that make this country so great. And when I think about who we are, when I think about what makes America great, I think about all of you --our men and women in uniform, our military spouses, and our amazing military kids.
And that’s why Jill and I wanted to host this event. And we’re not the only ones that wanted to pay tribute to all of you today. You see, when we said we wanted to host a concert to honor our military kids, let me tell you, everyone wanted to be here. Usher wanted to be here. (Applause.) Katy Perry wanted to be here. (Applause.) Nick Cannon, the folks from Glee, and all the other amazing performers -- they wanted to be here, too. (Applause.) And let me tell you, they’re not here for me. They’re not here for Dr. Biden. They are here for all of you. Because they know the kind of sacrifices that you all make every single day.
Let me just share something. Did you know that the -- that a military kid attends an average of six to nine schools by the time he or she graduates from high school? I mean, just think about that. Just imagine how much courage it takes to always be the new kid -- to walk through the doors of a new school every couple of years; to have to make new friends again and again. And did you know that our men and women in uniform often have to be away from their families for months, sometimes years.
Just think about the level of maturity that is required for military kids during those times, just think about that. Think about how they have to step up at home without even being asked -- taking out the trash when dad’s not there; helping brothers and sisters with their homework when mom is away.
Think about how hard it is for military kids to be apart from the people they love most, how they miss their moms and dads every day and would do anything to have them back home. And that’s just a glimpse of what it means to be a military kid. It means always thinking about things that are so much bigger than yourself. It means growing up just a little faster and working just a little harder than other kids. And it means doing the greatest thing you can ever do with your life at such a young age, and that is to serve our country.
So to America’s military kids, let me tell you, make no mistake about it, you all are an important part of the greatest military on Earth. (Applause.) By supporting your families, you all are helping to protect this country and keep every single one of us safe. You’re doing that. And Dr. Biden and I are so incredibly proud of you all. Every day, we’re proud of you. Let me tell you, our husbands are proud -- the Vice President, the President -- they are proud of you.
And in the coming years, as these wars draw to an end and we draw down our troops, I want you all to know --(applause) -- absolutely -- but here’s the thing: I want you to know, you and your families to know that we will not be drawing down our work to support you. We will be doing just the opposite, because the fact is that today we have a greater obligation to serve you than ever before. And we will do everything in our power, everything to meet that obligation to make sure that our military families get the benefits they’ve earned and the support and recognition you all deserve.
So in the coming months and years through Joining Forces, Dr. Biden and I, we will keep calling on Americans to translate the love and pride that we all feel into action that makes a real difference for you and your families. Every single one of us has a role to play here. And I encourage everyone watching tonight to go to JoiningForces.gov and find out how you can give back to our military families. Because we cannot rest, no, we cannot be satisfied until we are serving all of you as well as you’ve served this country. You all deserve nothing less.
And with that, there is someone else here tonight who would like to show her appreciation for you all. She is our final performer for this evening. Should we bring her out? Are you ready? (Applause.) Are you really ready? (Applause.) All right, then. It is now my pleasure to introduce the fabulous Katy Perry!