By U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Amy Forsythe
First lady Michelle Obama shined in the southern California sun as more than 3,500 Marines, sailors and their family members gathered at Camp Pendleton, Calif. June 13, 2010. The crowd was buzzing with excitement about what messages she might bring from Washington, D.C., and I was thrilled to be able to cover her visit as a correspondent to The Pentagon Channel.
Like so many American women, we look to the First Lady to set the example for fashion and sensibility. Mrs. Obama looked polished in a sleeveless black and white knee-length summer dress with pearl accessories.
Her appearance aside, it’s what she had to say that left us all feeling reenergized and grateful to have a president and first lady who truly care about servicemembers and their family members.
The first lady’s obvious appeal to female servicemembers and Marine wives drew them to the event, some waiting up to four hours to be admitted into the viewing stands. Many of them are working mothers who wanted to hear from someone they know faces similar concerns about raising children and making smart decisions when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle.
My impression of her speech left me feeling reassured and confident that she and the president will put action behind their words. There is no doubt in my mind that she is clearly aware, as she mentioned a few, of some of the pitfalls and bureaucracy that exists within the Department of Defense with regards to post-deployment struggles and family readiness.
I was exceptionally proud to hear her describe Camp Pendleton, and some of the surrounding communities, as a model for programs designed to help servicemembers. She expressed a desire to export the success here to other parts of the country.
Not only did she resonate with the women in the audience, but I could sense that some of the younger male Marines were just as impressed with her charm and heartfelt desire to make military families a top priority on her agenda.
The audience was beaming after listening to her 25-minute speech about a “National Call to Action” for a better-coordinated effort among government agencies.
U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, (D-Calif.) and Rep. Susan Davis, (D-Calif. 53rd District) also spoke about their goals and sustaining the momentum in improving areas within the VA healthcare system and readiness issues. All three women spoke from the heart about what they believe are some of the most important issues facing the San Diego region and a nation as a whole.
In 2008, I covered then, Sen. Barack Obama’s visit to the capital of Al Anbar Province — Ramadi, Iraq. It was late in the summer right before the presidential election and noticed right away his ‘rock star’ appeal among servicemembers. It’s easy to see how they share the same ideas about honoring service members and patriotism. Their sincerity and gratitude for service members shines through at every turn.
Read the Defense.gov story: “First Lady Visits Camp Pendleton“