The First Lady was in Norfolk, Virginia on Friday to celebrate the safe return of the United States Naval Ship Comfort and the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. In her remarks
, she noted that the brave men and women who were aboard the two ships are American heroes, but they truly had a global impact. The crew of the USNS Comfort provided aid during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and most recently, provided medical and dental care to countries in the Caribbean, Latin America, and South America. The sailors aboard the USS Eisenhower helped support the mission in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world:
The Comfort embodies our values by changing lives around the world. 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 returning to their home ports, we thank you for your service. Each of you have courageously served our country and demonstrated your commitment to upholding America's highest ideals. Your service is emblematic of the values we hold most dear.
And to the crew of the Comfort, with the help of the Department of Defense, the State Department, the USAID, the U.S. Public Health Service, and the health ministries of seven different countries you sailed through rough waters and calm seas, you met people from all walks of life, you healed, you helped and gave hope and represented the best of America's humanitarian efforts. There's a saying that "a ship in harbor is safe – but that is not what ships are built for." Well, the Comfort may have been built as an oil tanker, but as soon as those red crosses were painted on, it realized its full potential, and that is to bring comfort to those in need, to bring hope to the hopeless, to bring healing to the sick, and security to the insecure.
(First Lady Michelle Obama addresses the sailors returning from the USS Eisenhower and USNS Comfort battle group at the Norfolk Naval Station in Norfolk, Va., Friday, July 31, 2009. Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)
The First Lady also addressed the struggles of military families, a cause she has taken on personally. She urged all Americans to do their part to support the families of those who serve:
So as we welcome home the men and women of the Comfort and the Eisenhower from deployment, and as we celebrate their reunion with their families, let us make a pledge right here today to honor their service by doing more to serve them in our own communities. Let's do simple things, like offer to help with a carpool. Simple things, like bringing over dinner. Simple things, like being a shoulder to cry on or a friend to talk to, be a neighbor, be a friend.
If you own a business or run a company, or help run a business or a company you can help a military spouse get a job or keep a job despite a move across the country, so he or she can continue to build a meaningful career as they sacrifice for our nation. If you have a professional skill such as being a lawyer, a mental health professional, or an accountant, you can provide pro bono services to military families who need your help. If you have the opportunity, just reach out and simply say thank you – sometimes that goes a long way – say thank you to the spouses and the children of our military members and thank them for their sacrifice because it is real and it is powerful.
Let's all take the time to be aware of the heroes right in our midst. And by following the examples of the men and women we honor here today, we can all be emissaries of comfort to someone right in our own community.