Remarks by Dr. Biden and the First Lady at Major League Baseball-Joining Forces Event

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Release Time: 

For Immediate Release

St. Louis VA Medical Center
St. Louis, Missouri

3:20 P.M. CDT

DR. BIDEN:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Commissioner Selig, for that kind introduction.  And thank you to everyone at Major League Baseball for your leadership on behalf of our nation’s veterans and military families all across this country.  Most of all, I want to thank everyone from the Medical Center for welcoming us here to St. Louis.

Now, some of you may know that I’m a big baseball fan — and I’m a Philly girl.  But I’m really going to set that aside for today — because we’re really here to honor the veterans and their families.  And I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of this special day.

I admire each and every veteran, family member, patient, and staff member here, and I sincerely thank you for your service and your sacrifice.  Each of you, like the veterans across this nation, has chosen to dedicate your life to our country — and we are honored to be with you here today.
Over the past years, the First Lady and I have joined together to explore the issues faced by our military service members and their families — while they are deployed and after they return home.  In our work and travels, we are always inspired by the commitment of our military service members and truly grateful for what they do for our country.
Our military families are proud, strong, and resilient, but their service does come with sacrifice.  This administration has made military families a priority and is working to meet the unique challenges they face.  But this work cannot be done by the government alone.  As a military mom, I know firsthand how a simple act of kindness can make such a difference to a service member or a veteran.  That is why the First Lady and I created Joining Forces — to recognize, honor, and support our military families.  It is our sacred duty to honor the service of those who sacrifice for our country — and we can all play a role with a simple act of service.
Major League Baseball and so many of your players have stepped up to join forces with us — using baseball’s platform to help the nation appreciate the sacrifices our military family members make every single day.  I hope that the millions of viewers watching tonight’s game will join us in this effort.  And I thank everyone here for your leadership and your example.
And now it is my pleasure to introduce my dear friend and partner, and a wonderful advocate for all military families and veterans — our First Lady, Michelle Obama.  (Applause.) 

MRS. OBAMA:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Sit down, rest yourselves.  Thank you for that warm welcome.  We are truly thrilled to be here today.  And Jill and I are very happy to be making our husbands jealous, too — (laughter) — because what are we doing?  We're at the World Series!  And where are they?  We don't really know.  (Laughter.)  But they're not very happy. 

So we're thrilled to be here.  And I want to start by thanking Jill not just for her kind introduction, but for being such a dear friend and just a true partner.  As a military mom  — we come from this from different angles.  She is from a military family and I'm, like most Americans, not connected to the military directly.  So we've made a tremendous partnership here in terms of our approach and our understanding.  And we wouldn't be here without her tireless advocacy and her passion for this issue.  So let's give Jill another round of applause.  (Applause.)

And I have to say just a huge thank you to Commissioner Selig and to Sue and to Tim and to Major League Baseball.  As Jill said, just the focused and committed support that Major League Baseball has shown to veterans and military families and to our troops has just been tremendous.  And it has been organization-wide — every player, every team, every official from top to bottom has been on board in an extremely passionate way. 

So I just want to thank you all for not just sponsoring this event, but for making our veterans and military families the focus of tonight's game.  Thank you for what you do every day to support our VA hospitals, our veterans and military families across the country through the incredible "Welcome Back, Veterans" program.  It is a shining example of what we want this country to do for the men and women who have served us so well, and their families.  This is exactly what we had in mind when Jill and I started Joining Forces. 

The idea behind Joining Forces is very simple:  We know that when our men and women in uniform are called to serve, their families serve, too, so their sacrifice is their families’ sacrifice.  And we say this a lot — family members don't wear uniforms.  It's hard to see them in a crowd, and it's hard to know the challenges and the struggles that they face. 

Jill and I have had the pleasure of traveling around the country, listening to their stories, understanding all that they go through to make it possible for their family members to serve our country.  So their sacrifice is something that we must highlight.  And even if we’re not a part of a military family, we are all a part of the American family.  So every single one of us has an obligation to recognize, honor and support the men and women who protect us, and the families who love them.  They can't serve without those families having their backs. 

And that’s what Jill and I and the folks at Major League Baseball want to do here today.  We wanted to come here today to say thank you.  We wanted to thank you for your service, your sacrifice, your patriotism — because we know just how extraordinary you are.  That's what all this attention is about.  We know how extraordinary you are. 

Jill and I have had the privilege of visiting with wounded warriors like all of you at places like this all across the country.  And no matter how badly folks have been injured, or whatever they're struggling with, no matter how much pain they’re in, the beauty is you never scale back your dreams.  That's what we see.  You never scale back your dreams. 

You're making plans.  You're re-imagining futures.  And this is particularly true when you see young people who were wounded.  But they're telling us that they’re not just going to walk again, but they’re going to run.  And many of them are going to run marathons. 

I mean, you all motivate us.  And all of you –- and your families –- are right there every step of the way.  The families are by each other's side, pushing, encouraging, reminding with your presence every day, with your love, just what you have to look forward to. 

Every day, you all inspire us.  And that's really what has led Jill and I to be so passionate about this issue.  We want the country to know your stories.  We want the country to know of your sacrifice.  Because if they know, then we all can't help but step up.  And that's what we want this country to do.  By shining a light on these events, with Major League Baseball shining a light on these events, we want America to know that everyone can do something; everyone should do something.  Every business, every church, every individual, every school, every teacher — we should all know who are the military families in our midst and find out what they need and step up and provide that.

Joining Forces is just a way to galvanize all of that energy and goodwill that's already out there, to shine that light and to lift up these stories and these efforts all throughout the country.  And our hope is that ultimately you all feel this on the ground.  This isn't just for the cameras.  Our goal is to find out whether you feel like you have the support of this country.  And you should feel that every single day.

So we will keep working until the answer from all of you is, absolutely, yes. 

We are just so proud and so grateful and so honored to be here.  So I'm going to stop talking so that we can actually come down and spend some time and shake some hands.  So thank you so much.  And just keep doing what you're doing.  God bless.  (Applause.) 

3:30 P.M. CDT

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