First lady Michelle Obama visits two cities in state
RALEIGH (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama met with several military families in North Carolina today, chatting about their children’s grades and eating habits before heading off for other duties.
At Raleigh-Durham International Airport, Obama was greeted by Bianca Strzalkowski of Camp Lejeune, who was the 2011 military spouse of the year in Military Spouse magazine. The first lady then walked along a rope and shook hands and chatted with other military families.
“After a decade of war, we need people like her fighting for us,” Strzalkowski said of the Joining Forces project that Obama and Jill Biden started to help military families. “We have an entire new generation of young war widows and wounded warriors and as we draw down forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, we need to build up these programs.”
Strzalkowski, was accompanied by her three children and her husband, Gunnery Sgt. Ron Strzalkowski, started a military spouse education initiative to expand educational opportunities for her peers. She said Obama invited her to meet with the first lady at the White House to discuss her project in more detail.
“I think of her as a role model,” Strzalkowski said. “She’s balancing being a mom, her husband’s very demanding job and traveling around getting to know the stories of the entire, diverse military community. She’s very relatable to me and all the military spouses in all that she’s balancing.”
Susan Reynolds, whose husband is an airman stationed at Fort Bragg, was relieved that her 18-month-old son Ian didn’t cry while Obama spoke with them and signed her autograph. Her pen didn’t work, however, and Obama signaled to an aide to bring another one so she could sign the copy of the U.S. Constitution that Reynolds always carries with her.
“My pen got stage fright,” she said.
Obama also addressed a Democratic National Committee reception in Raleigh before heading to Charlotte to promote the “Let’s Move!” fitness program with children before the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament. She also planned to speak at two Democratic events.
North Carolina is a crucial state in President Barack Obama’s re-election strategy. Last week, Vice President Joe Biden visited Davidson County Community College, and the president is visiting Charlotte on Wednesday.