Wednesday, April 17, 2013

First Lady Michelle Obama Pays Tribute To Midshipmen At US Naval Academy Luncheon

Annapolis feast with 4,000 midshipmen includes the mac & cheese recipe from Mrs. Obama's book 'American Grown'...
As part of her Joining Forces campaign, First Lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday visited the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD for a luncheon with midshipmen where she paid tribute to the future leaders as the nation's "best and brightest."  Mrs. Obama was seated at the head table with Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Capt. Robert E. Clark III, Commandant of midshipmen, and Midshipman 2nd class Justin Chock, a political science major from Honolulu, and other students. (Above, Mrs. Obama seated between Chock, l, and Clark)

The First Lady's visit came ahead of a bill signing at the State House with Maryland  Governor Martin O’Malley for the Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013, which could benefit the students when they leave the military.  Clad in a bright red pleated sleeveless dress and pearls with matching red heels, Mrs. Obama thanked the 4,000 midshipmen for their "service and sacrifice" as she stood beside a golden bell on a circular dais in the vast, airy mess hall.  

"The degree of discipline and rigor that it takes to do what you do is truly amazing," Mrs. Obama said.  "Barack and I, we are so proud of you all."

"We know you are some of the best and brightest that this country has to offer. It's important that you know that you have a President and a First Lady who will keep working to make sure that this country serves you as well as you serve us."

The First Lady recounted bringing First Daughter Sasha, now 11, to visit the Naval Academy a few years ago, and hinted that she may join the midshipmens' ranks.

"She was just taken by the experience," Mrs. Obama said.  "I'm not sure where her trajectory will lead her...but this is an amazing place."

On the luncheon menu: Grilled chicken and healthy green salad, as well as cauliflower mac & cheese served with steamed snow peas and asparagus.  The mac & cheese was made by the Annapolis culinary specialists from a White House recipe that is included in Mrs. Obama's book American Grown.  Centerpieces on the tables were large baskets of fresh vegetables and greens rather than flowers.  (Above:  Mrs. Obama with Justin Chock, l, and Capt. Clark)

Mrs. Obama drew laughs for praising the greens on the plates awaiting the midshipmen. 

"I bid you a wonderful, delicious lunch--I see a lot of greens on the plate, which is good," Mrs. Obama said.  

On April 12, the Navy football team visited the White House for a ceremony with President Obama, who presented them with the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.  (Above, a long view of the head table and the mess hall)

Mrs. Obama offered her own congratulations during her remarks.

"I want to congratulate you on winning the Commander-In-Chief's trophy.  Go Navy!" Mrs. Obama said to applause.  

"Well done.  And I know that my husband will be here in May for your commencement, so I am particularly pleased that I get a chance to stop by and say hello, but, more importantly, to thank you for your service and your sacrifice."

Before sitting down to lunch, Mrs Obama had stood on the steps of Bancroft Hall at 12:03 PM with Secretary Mabus and the Commandant to watch the weekday tradition of the thousands of midshipmen marching indoors in formation for the noon meal. 

Following the luncheon, Mrs. Obama met with three service members who will soon leave the Navy for the civilian workforce.  She chatted with two physical therapists and a laboratory technician as she toured the Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Clinic in the Brigade Medical Unit. (Above, during the meeting and tour)

All three service members could benefit from Maryland's new bill, which expedites the processing of seventy different professional licensing for veterans, easing the transition to civilian life after military service.  The bill also gives college credit for military experience and helps military spouses more quickly get professional licenses in Maryland.  Job creation for veterans is a centerpiece of Mrs Obama's Joining Forces campaign, started two years ago.

As her motorcade traveled from the Academy to the Maryland State House where the bill was about to be signed into law, on-lookers waved a sign welcoming the First Lady to Annapolis, pool reported.   Mrs. Obama was greeted at the entrance to the State House by Gov. O'Malley, who escorted her to the signing ceremony. (Above, the mac and cheese made from Mrs. Obama's recipe)

*Photos by the United States Naval Academy