By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON : Last week, I had an amazing opportunity to interview Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, in her home at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.
Earlier that day, Dr. Biden had invited about 50 D.C.-area children -- including 25 from National Guard families to her home for some holiday festivities that included letter-writing to deployed and wounded troops, and cookie and ornament decorating. Be sure to check out photos of the event. You can read more about the holiday event in my blog post: "Dr. Biden Welcomes Guard Children for Holidays."
The day's culminating event was a visit from the big guy himself, Santa Claus, who posed for pictures with Dr. Biden and the kids.
As the children filed out, each had a bag of colorfully decorated holiday cookies clutched in their hand and, I'm sure, some lifetime memories.
I watched them go, glad I was a part of the day, but also excited about what was yet to come. Dr. Biden had agreed to do a one-on-one interview with me about her quest to help military families, which I'll write more about in an upcoming blog.
But first, I wanted to talk to her about the upcoming holidays and her message to the troops and their families, particularly those dealing with separations and deployments.
We talked in her solarium, next to a "peace" tree decorated in white dove and paper red reindeer ornaments. Each reindeer ornament had a wish for 2011 on it, written by school children from this and the previous year.
I asked her which was hers. She pointed out one, hung about mid-tree, which expressed her wish to simply bring "our troops home safely."
I then asked her what she'd like to say to our servicemembers and their families this holiday season.
Above all, Biden said, she wanted to thank them for their service.
"You're so strong, so resilient," she said. "And you're doing such a great job. I want to just say thank you."
This message of gratitude is one she's taken as far as the deserts of Iraq and as close as her own living room. Please check back for more on my interview and on her efforts to improve support to military families soon.
First Lady Michelle Obama also conveyed her holiday message of gratitude to military members and their families during a holiday event that my colleague, Lisa Daniel, wrote about in an AFPS article"First Lady Welcomes Marine Families to White House."
"As first lady, I've had the privilege of meeting our men and women in uniform on bases and in hospitals and in communities all over the country," the first lady said. "When I make those visits, I come away not just with a sense of pride and gratitude, but also with a sense of awe, both at their courage and their sacrifice and at their commitment to serving their country and their
"I want to thank you for your service and your work," she said. "I want to thank your families for the sacrifices you all make, especially our little people who sacrifice just as much as the big people do." (Issued on Dec. 6, 2010)