First Lady Welcomes Service Members, Families to White House Holiday Preview
By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2016 - First Lady Michelle Obama hosted nearly 200 service members, spouses, children, veterans and wounded warriors at this year's annual White House holiday décor preview as part of a Joining Forces initiative celebration.
"For the past eight years, celebrating the holidays and having you all be the first that see the decorations … has been one of our favorite White House traditions," the first lady said.
"It reminds us that between all the shopping lists and the travel plans and all those big meals, we cannot forget what the holidays are really about, and you all help us," she said.
*Military Families 'Do It All'*
Military families remind Americans of what matters, Obama told to the audience in the East Room. "Even as you serve this country in uniform, or you hold everything together here at home as a military spouse, or you prepare to attend another new school as a military kid … you all still find time to contribute even more to your communities and to this country."
The first lady said military families "do it all," from volunteering at local food banks, coaching their kids' sports teams on the weekends, to even cutting the Thanksgiving holiday short to volunteer at the White House to decorate it for the holidays.
"The commitment to serve others [is] what the holidays are truly about and that's what we honor with our holiday decorations every year at the White House," the first lady said. "And as usual, we're going to be celebrating our country's greatest gifts with special decorations celebrating our military families."
*Honoring America's Heroes*
The first lady pointed out a military-themed Christmas tree and flag, comprising pictures of military families she and President Barack Obama have visited around the world over the past eight years.
"The tree is hung with gold ornaments honoring America's greatest heroes, the men and women who have given their lives for our country," she said, noting that an electronic tablet is affixed to the display for visitors to send holiday wishes to U.S. service members.
"To all the military families, those of you who are here today and all those around the world, I want to once again honor you for your service and your sacrifice and your love of this nation, the first lady said. "It's a lot that my family and I share along with you. It has been such a complete pleasure to support you in this time."