Michelle Obama: Meeting military families has been one of my biggest privileges

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The Independent Online

When people ask me what I'm most proud of this first year, I usually give them two responses. I usually say, first, as a mother I am most proud that our two girls have made that adjustment and they've built a new life here and are happy and healthy, and as I say, as normal as they could possibly be under these circumstances. I joke that I still recognise them. So that's a good thing.

Then the other response is as First Lady. And I tell people that at the top of the list of priorities that I've had over this year, it's been the time that I have spent highlighting the service of our incredible military families. As I think back on all the incredible experiences of this past year, and we have had many – I've met the Queen, the Pope, we've done a lot – I have to say that those visits to the military bases have been one of my greatest privileges as First Lady, truly. Through these interactions that we've had, I've gained an even greater level of respect and gratitude for our troops and their amazing families. It is a sight to see.

We can never forget our wounded warriors – the inspirational men and women that the President and I have welcomed to the White House and those we have met all around the country. Unfortunately for too many of them, the battle continues even after they come home. They are the servicemen that I met at a VA hospital in the Bronx, working so hard to get back on their feet, and in some cases to get back to their units. That's all they cared about.

They're the patriots like the young Navy Seal who joined us at the Joint Chiefs dinner last week at the White House. This young man attended the dinner with his little sister. I got to sit next to them. She was a nurse who moved to Washington to care for her brother – left her career behind. And he explained to me how he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost both of his legs. Then just four months later he finished a half-marathon. The courage and the optimism of both he and his sister was breathtaking.

And I will always remember the moms and the dads that the President and I have met – spouses who've lost their best friend in the world; parents who have laid their children to rest.

Taken from remarks made by America's First Lady at a Joint Armed Forces Officers' Wives' Luncheon this week