Thank you, Tim, and thank you to the entire team at the San Diego Armed Services YMCA for hosting us and putting together this wonderful meal. I’m grateful to Representatives Jacobs and Peters for joining us. And I want to thank the leadership of the USS Giffords for this warm reception.
Just minutes ago, the Blue crew brought me on board your ship—and as always, welcomed me with warmth and kindness. Seeing it again today, it’s hard to believe it was eight years ago that we christened it. In that time, this ship and its crew have honored their namesake, Gabby—a woman who never stops fighting with courage and resilience.
Dedicating this vessel was an honor that I accepted not only as then-Second Lady—but also as the daughter of Signalman Don Jacobs, who served in the Navy in the Pacific in World War II, as the mom of Major Beau Biden, and as a nana who watched her two little grandchildren put on brave smiles while their father served in Iraq.
I will never forget the emotions that ran through me as I stood in front of the bow—just praying the bottle I held in my hands would break when it was time. I was excited, nervous, and most of all, deeply proud to become an honorary member of the crew’s family—“a shipmate for life.” It’s a privilege to call you my community—my military family—and it’s wonderful to be here with you today.
I’m excited to hear your stories and bring them back home to my husband, your President, so that we can better serve communities like yours. Because your health and your happiness matter to us.
As you know, we have an all-volunteer force—and have for fifty years. We rely on you to step forward. That’s why we have to make sure that service is an opportunity of dignity and honor, of pride and accomplishment—for the entire family. We will only be able to maintain a strong voluntary force if we don’t ask those who serve in uniform to choose between their love of country and their love of the families who serve alongside them.
Joining Forces, my White House initiative to support military and veteran families, caregivers, and survivors, is working hard to get you the resources and opportunities your service deserves.
You, the families of this crew, may not wear a uniform. But with your love and support, with your sacrifice and devotion, you are as critical to our national security as the engine is to a ship. And sailors, as you prepare to head back out to sea, know that the families who remain ashore will not be forgotten by your President or by me.
So let me close with these thoughts:
May the friendships we make brighten even the darkest nights.
May we tell the story of your community with dignity, boldness, and truth—so that all Americans understand the sacrifices that you make, both in times of war and times of peace.
May our gratitude go beyond words to become action—working tirelessly, together, to build a nation that is worthy of your sacrifice.
And may God bless our service members, their families, caregivers, and survivors.
With all my heart: thank you for your service and your sacrifice.