Thank you, Commander Low. I’m grateful to you and the entire leadership team for the warm welcome this evening.
I also know that we have your amazing Senator here. He’s working every day in Washington for Connecticut’s military and veteran families. Dick– Joe and I are thankful for your partnership.
And to all of the local elected leaders here, thank you for taking the time to join us.
The USS Delaware is family.
I first felt that connection more than 10 years ago, when it was announced that I would be this boat’s sponsor. The USS Delaware was nothing more than a painting then.
I felt it years later, when I traveled to Newport News for the christening – seeing that simple painting come to life in a shower of champagne.
And I feel it today, not only as the Delaware’s sponsor, but also as the daughter of a World War II Navy veteran and as a National Guard mom who watched her son deploy to Iraq for a year.
I’ve seen the heart of this team, and I’m proud and humbled to be your shipmate for life.
You’ve shown the world again and again what it means to be “the First Defenders of Liberty.”
You stand on the front lines…carrying on the legacy of sailors and boats before you…protecting our democracy from whatever threats it may face, so those here at home can keep reaching for tomorrows that are brighter than our todays.
And to the families here – the military kids and spouses – I want to thank you too.
Because, while you may not wear a uniform, the President and I know that you serve our country too, and we are grateful.
That’s why Joining Forces, my White House initiative to support military and veteran families, caregivers, and survivors, is working to ensure that you have the resources and opportunities you need.
I know this journey isn’t easy: 274 days spent apart, cramped bunks and missed birthdays, days without sun and nights without bedtime stories, and never enough time at home.
But there have been moments of joy too, haven’t there?
Eight babies born this year – I see some of them right now.
Six marriages. Promotions and pinnings. Earning the Battle “E”!
And I hope you know that in all those moments – you’re never alone.
Your President and I are with you. So is everyone in this room, and the family you’ve created around the world.
So, as you get underway once more this new year, I ask that you hold on to those bonds – the ones that can join us across miles and oceans, shining even in the darkest water, always illuminating the way home, connecting all of us in one great military family – bound by love of country and love for one another.
I wish you a happy and hopeful 2024.
Thank you and God bless our troops and their families.