First Lady Thanks Vt. Military Members

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(Host) First Lady Michelle Obama paid a brief visit to Vermont Thursday to raise money at a pair of sold-out events in Burlington. But first she spoke to members of the military and their families to thank them for their service. VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Obama) "Thank you so much! Oh, my goodness, I’ve got to come to Vermont more often."

(Zind) Some in the enthusiastic crowd of several hundred waited nearly four hours inside a National Guard hangar to hear Mrs. Obama.

Her remarks focused on military families and she used the occasion to talk about a national effort she is heading up along with Jill Biden, the wife of the vice president.

The program called Joining Forces is an effort to marshal the resources of government agencies and local organizations to support Guard families.

To illustrate her point, Mrs. Obama told the story of Private First Class Andrew Parker of Hyde Park, who was wounded in Afghanistan. Parker’s former kindergarten teacher led an effort to raise money to help the family.

(Obama) "And it’s these stories that I want America to hear. These stories are beautiful and they are inspiring and they show us that you do not have to be the first lady of the United States or a CEO or a general to get involved in this effort. Because no one can do everything, but everyone can do something."

(Zind) Jessica Cover came with her husband, Sergeant First Class Christopher Cover, to hear Mrs. Obama speak. She said she appreciated the support the Obamas have shown for military families, but she came to show support for another of Michelle Obama’s causes.

(Cover) "I’m in the fitness field and I’m a running coach both for student athletes and adult athletes and I was very passionate about Michelle’s mission, combating childhood obesity."

(Zind) Sergeant First Class David Boyle was deployed with the Vermont Guard last year in Afghanistan. He says he attended the first lady’s speech because it’s rare that an occupant of the White House visits Vermont.

(Boyle) "Let alone a First Lady, so I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity."

(Zind) Asked if he had any thoughts to share on the Obama administration’s Afghanistan policy, Boyle gave a response common among Vermont Guard soldiers.

(Boyle) "None whatsoever."

(Zind) Following her 15 minute speech, Mrs. Obama spent time moving though the crowd greeting families. Guard officials say earlier she met privately with family members who have lost loved ones in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For VPR News, I’m Steve Zind.



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