tv First Lady Welcome to Military Families CSPAN December 25, 2016 10:40am-10:54am EST
look how good you as look. you ready for some action? are you sure? you sound a you don't want cookies or anything like that. you think you want some cookies? you think so? well, ok, we're going to get to it, but first i want to welcome everyone to the white house and thanking hazel for that wonderful introduction and for all of her service and hard work and helping to make this home so beautiful. i want to give a huge thank you to all of the volunteers, as hazel mentioned, who traveled here from 33 states, d.c., and puerto rico, to come here and put up these beautiful decorations that transform the white house into this holiday wonderland. i'm so grateful to you all. as we celebrate my family's last holiday season in the white house, i'm thinking back to when we first came here to washington.
we promised to open up this house to as many people from as many backgrounds as possible. we truly wanted to make the white house the people's house. particularly during the holiday season. past eight years, through the seasons, we have worked hard to achieve that goal by welcoming almost half of a million guests to this house during the season. and thanks to our amazing volunteers we have been adorning the white house with about a half of a million ornaments for our guests to enjoy. we brought smiles to the faces of all of those who enjoyed this 200,000 holiday cookies, prepared by our outstanding pastry chefs and you all will get to have some more of those today. that will make to that -- 200000 and 20 or so. looking back, i am proud to say that we did our very best during
the holidays to make americans of all backgrounds and walks of life feel comfortable and welcome here in our nation's house. the we do all of this with help of our extraordinary staff. yes, we have wonderful volunteers, but we have folks who each year take a very limited budget and very little resources and they make miracles happen in this house. for our final holiday preview i wanted to take a moment to the folksto highlight who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes. i don't know if they know that i'm calling them out. i don't even know they are in the room. i want to start with our social secretary. there she is. thank you. [applause] you are going to see chris and susie, our executive chef and .ur executive pastry chef
i want to thank them both, as well as all of the chefs, the staff in the kitchen who work so hard to do everything possible to make these holidays terrific. i want to thank all of the ushers, who never get credit. i know that they are here working away. they greet you and they make sure that things are moving like they should in the house. our florists, who are tremendous. i rarely get to thank our electricians, our carpenters, they make sheer -- they make sure that chandeliers are moved and the structures are built so that we can put things on and they do this in a matter of days . they turn this house upside down . to our calligraphers, you will see all of their handiwork throughout. i also always want to thank our incredible marine band, whom you
hear throughout the season. my husband's favorite musical crew are his own marine band. this is all possible because of all of these people. on behalf of the entire obama barack, sasha, melia, we are so proud of this team here. so proud of the time we spent with you. we are grateful for everything you have done for us over the years, so let's give them a round of applause. [applause] so, before i get choked up, let me officially kick off our final white house holiday season. as always, today we are celebrating with our military community and families. we have our servicemembers, we have veterans here today. we have wounded warriors and military spouse is. [applause]
-- spouses [applause] .ou go, spouses and of course we have our outstanding, handsome, beautiful, smart, engaging military kids. are there any here? your they are. [applause] for the past eight years, celebrating the holidays and having you to be the first to see the doubt -- see the celebrations, this is one of our favorite white house traditions. reminding us that between the , travel plans and big meals, we cannot forget what the holidays are really about. you all help us. our military families, like all of you, remind us of what matters. even as you serve this country in uniform or you hold everything together here at home as a military spouse, or you prepared to attend another new school is a military kid.
and that one back there talking about i don't know what, but there is a little one back there with a lot to say. [laughter] time toall still find contribute even more to your communities into this country. you do it all. you volunteer at local food banks. you coach sports teams on the weekends. many of you have even cut your thanksgiving holiday short to come here and decorate the white house. just another example, hazel is here, one of our volunteers is named jacqueline. she here? so that we can really embarrass her? she is probably still working. we will be doing another perception for volunteers later. during her husband's 22 years in the army, she and her family spent the holidays in five different states. even on a base overseas. during that time they managed to raise seven kids.
weeks ago they celebrated the birth of their 15th grandchild. service toamilies this country did not end when her husband retired. as they watched two of their sons due to her's both iraq and afghanistan. though she doesn't consider herself the most artistic decorator, she volunteered at the white house this year because, and this is what she said -- she said if patriotism is an art, then she is a master. it's that kind of commitment to serving others that that is what the holidays are all about and that is what we honor with our holiday decorations every year at the white house. this years theme is the gift of the holidays. as usual we will be celebrating our country's greatest gifts with special decorations celebrating our military families.
when youok sellers walk in, the visitors that come will see a tree and a flag display composed of pictures of military families whom my husband and i have met on bases and at communities around the world over the course of our time here. the tree is hung with gold ornaments honoring americans greatest heroes, than any and women who have given their lives for our country. right next to those displays is an ipad station that allows guests to send holiday wishes to our servicemembers. we are hoping that each of the 68,000 guests that are going to visit during the holiday season will take a moment to pause and send the moment -- spend a moment to express and send their gratitude. after that they will move on to of another member -- another a number of decorations that we share in the library.
the gift of a great education, which is important, right? school, college, all of that. we have trees in the library made out of crayons and pencils. awareness about the millions of adolescent girls around the world who are not able to attend schools. we have got to trees decorated with special ornaments, each of which has the word girl written in one of a dozen different languages. so, when the guests had upstairs to this floor they will see that the green room is filled with decorations representing the gifts provided by the white house kitchen garden, with trees hung with ornaments in the shape of bees and fruit. and, of course, right next door we have our 19 foot tall white house christmas tree. it's really big. they have to take out the chandeliers and rearrange everything just to get the tree in the house. that is in the blue room.
room youate dining will spot the official white house gingerbread house. guys, when you see it everything on it is something you can eat. our pastry chefs have worked very hard to make this house possible. it is beautiful. they got the replica of the new white house garden with bo, sunny, and lots of cool stuff. the trees in that room, there are 56 lego gingerbread houses representing every state and territory in america. and then somewhere around the house we have supersized replicas of bow and sunny, guarding their presence. because we don't let them have their presence. i'm just kidding, they get presents. they are fine. altogether the folks who come to these halls over the next few weeks will see about -- how many ornaments do you think are in this house? 100.
>> six. mrs. obama: 6, 10, 100? [laughter] 9000? , it's 70,000ou ornaments. i was pretty shocked at that. so, we can't wait. that is a lot of ornaments. we can't wait to start welcoming people into their white house this holiday season. who createdone these stunning displays, our volunteers, the folks that help to make this happen, i want to once again say thank you, you did a phenomenal job once again in turning this house into a magical place. to all the military families, those of you here today and those of you around the world, i want to once again honor you for , your sacrifice, and your love of this nation.
i's a love that my family and share along with you. it has been such a complete pleasure to support you in this time. want to wish everyone a happy, healthy holiday season. all right? and with that, we get to have some fun, ok? just talking to the kids here. [laughter] here's what you get, we will take your children from you for a moment. that's what you get. [laughter] [applause] mrs. obama: don't applaud too loudly. they are still here and can hear you. you can enjoy the cider, the cookies, and you guys want to come with me? we've got some surprises in the back. your parents will be here. we will try to bring them back in one piece. guarantee that it will be neat. there is die and food color. sorry. all of it is washable. are you guys ready