First Lady Honors Military Women, Vets
(November 24, 2009)
|WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2009 – First Lady Michelle Obama today
cited Army Staff Sgt. Amy Krueger, one of 13 killed during
the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, as an example of
the determination and courage that has characterized women's
service to the military throughout U.S. history.|
Obama, who hosted about 130 military women and veterans to
tea at the White House today, remembered Krueger's response
when her mother told her she could not track down al Qaeda
leader Osama bin Laden singlehandedly.
|First Lady Michelle Obama addresses guests at an afternoon tea, Nov. 18, 2009, at the White House, honroing all women who have served, or are serving in the U.S. military. DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class William Selby
“Watch me,” replied Krueger, who enlisted in the Army after
the 9/11 terror attacks. |
“That phrase, ‘Watch me,” sums up the spirit of our women in
uniform throughout our history,” Obama told her guests.
“When others doubted you, or dismissed you, or questioned
whether you could endure the training or complete the
mission, that was your response, ‘Watch me,” she said.
“Watch me succeed. Watch me risk everything I have for the
country I love. Watch me do my part to protect this nation
and protect this union. Watch me.”
Obama joined Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe
Biden, in honoring military women, many who have served in
Iraq and Afghanistan, and others whose service dates back to
World War II.
Retired Air Force Wilma Vaught, president of the Women In
Military Service For America Memorial Foundation, Inc.,
board of directors, had suggested the idea of a White House
tea – a tradition popularized by Eleanor Roosevelt -- during
the first lady's recent visit to Arlington National
So as Vaught and the other guests in the White House East
Room sat around tables with vases of yellow roses and plates
piled high with party sandwiches and cookies, Obama
recognized women's long tradition of military service. Some
served before the country's independence, she noted, and in
many cases, before women had the right to vote or own
They overcame challenges through sheer determination and
hard work, the first lady said, serving as role models for
those who followed in their footsteps and breaking one
“brass ceiling” after another along the way.
“Your legacy is more than your own service,” she told the
women. “I hope you know that your legacy will be measured in
the service of every woman who follows in the trails that
you've blazed – every woman who benefits from your daring
It will also be measured, she said, by those inspired by
Biden told the group she and the first lady, in their
travels around the country, have been “truly overwhelmed by
the courage of our men and women in uniform, and inspired by
the dignity and sense of patriotism that you exhibit every
“What an extraordinary group of individuals we have here
today,” she said, noting the women representing all branches
and ranks of the U.S. military, as well as members of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, senior enlisted advisors and others
serving the country.
“As each of you knows, women have always played a critical
role in supporting our nation's defense and security, and
this role will only continue to evolve and grow in the
future,” Biden said.
Marine Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet
Napolitano joined Obama and Biden on the podium as they
honored the guests.
Cartwright joked that it felt a bit strange for a Marine
fighter pilot to sit down for a “spot of tea,” but said he
welcomed the chance to pay tribute to the strides military
women have made and the contributions they continue to make.
“When Eleanor Roosevelt hosted similar events, attitudes
were significantly different,” he said, adding that, today,
women are no longer considered a distinct, separate group
within the military.
“Today's women are key contributors to our military team,”
he said, noting the achievements women have made and
critical contribution they have made. More than 200,000
women have deployed since 9/11, more than 100 of them making
the ultimate sacrifice.
Cartwright thanked the women at today's tea for their
service. “These women represent the core and essential
values of our military, and they also represent the true
treasure of this nation – our youth and the people who
serve,” he said.
Navy Lt. Kate Maslowski, assigned to the U.S. Naval Academy
as a flag lieutenant for Superintendent Vice Adm. Jeffrey L.
Fowler, said she felt overwhelmed to be part of today's
“I'm taking it all in, amazed to see so many influential men
and women here, and others who have played such a big role
in empowering women,” she said. “It means a lot to be here.
I'm excited beyond words.”
Air Force Brig. Gen. Allyson Solomon, assistant adjutant
general for the Maryland Air National Guard, said she felt
particularly privileged to be among the women veterans who
paved the way for today's women in uniform.
She noted two attendees at today's tea: 104-year-old Esther
Corcoran, one of the Army's first women lieutenant colonels;
and Alyce Dixon, who was born in 1907 and served with the
Army's 668th Central Postal Directory Battalion during World
“They're inspiring,” Solomon said. “I just want to thank
them for all the changes they helped make.”
American Forces Press Service
Forces Press Service / DoD
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