By Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Gina Wollman
Special to American Forces Press Service
July 31, 2009 - First lady Michelle Obama welcomed home the crews of two Navy ships and expressed her support for their families while speaking to more than 500 servicemembers at Naval Station Norfolk here today. Obama commended the crews of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and the hospital ship USNS Comfort for a job well done. Eisenhower had been deployed to the Persian Gulf, and Comfort to Central and South America.
"I am delighted to be here in Norfolk today to welcome home so many heroes," the first lady said. "This is a happy day for the community of Norfolk and families of these brave men and women. We are standing here among heroes -- military, civilian, American and foreign."
Obama expressed her gratitude for all that has been accomplished by the military and for Comfort's civic and humanitarian-aid mission. She also acknowledged Eisenhower's contributions to maritime security.
"The Comfort embodies our values by changing lives around the world," she said. "The Eisenhower defends our values in the world's most dangerous places.
"To the nearly 6,000 sailors who deployed with the Eisenhower Strike Group to Afghanistan and the Middle East and are now returning to their homeports, we thank you for your service," she continued. "Each of you have courageously served our country and demonstrated your commitment to uphold America's highest ideas."
Obama also acknowledged the importance of military families' support.
"We must all remember that when our troops are deployed, their families are left behind and faced with an entirely different set of duties -- mothers who tuck their kids in at night and struggle to answer the question, 'When's daddy coming home?;' fathers who wonder how they are going to keep their families together while they juggle ballet recitals, homework and mowing the lawn, all while their wives are serving their country abroad," she said, "and spouses and parents caring for a wounded warrior or struggling to move forward after losing a loved one."
The first lady has traveled throughout the world to thank servicemembers for their commitment to the nation.
"I have seen the sacrifices [of] our military families up close. They are the quiet heroes who represent the best in our country," she said.
(Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Gina Wollman serves with the Navy Public Affairs Support Element East.)