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Michelle Obama, Headlining Women's Conference, Talks Military Sacrifice

Kristen Villarreal |
October 26, 2010 | 9:22 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

(Creative Commons)
(Creative Commons)
The main event of the Women's Conference 2010 was filled with applause, laughter and serious messages from speakers including Brian Williams, Jill Biden, Maria Shriver and Michelle Obama.

 Guests like Sandra Day O'Connor, who was welcomed with a standing ovation to the conference room of the Long Beach Convention Center, embodied the powerful women in attendance.

But the big draw was First Lady Michelle Obama.

 Obama, addressing a full house of 14,000, said as a working mother she remembers struggling to keep it together like other working mothers across the country. She recalled meeting military women across the country who's stories she found breathtaking. Obama notes how the women spoke of the hardships of moving every few years and the process of getting educations and jobs in different states.

 "Supporting [military families] is our obligation as a nation," Obama said.

Obama highlighted the lives and struggles of women in the military as a serious issue. She urged the attendees to listen and show their support for the families in whatever way they could.

"We as women know how to support each other...The question is how we as a nation can give back to a community that has given so much." Obama said.

Obama suggested attendees as teachers, lawyers and business owners to extend a helping hand to army wives across the nation by offering pro bono services to military families.

"We have a lot of work to do, but if we work together we can ensure that military spouses always have a voice in this country," Obama said.

Earlier in the day, Brian Williams hosted the program "Values, Vision, and Voice: Men Who Get It".

Phil Knight, Co-Founder and Chairman of Nike, Inc., Nicholas Kristof, columnist, New York Times and Pulitzer Prize winner, and Howard Schultz, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Starbucks Coffee Company were part of the panel.

Williams posed questions to the men that ranged from what woman inspired them the most - all named their mothers - and about their organizations that benefit the lives of women. A video by Nike, Inc., for the Nike Foundation for girleffect.org was highlighted in the program. 

Jill Biden was introduced by Gen. Charlotte Miller of the National Guard. Biden addressed education, breast cancer awareness and her support of families in the military.

"The power of the community of women is immense, let's put it to good use," Biden said.

Host Maria Shriver was introduced for her annual speech. Shriver addressed the theme of the conference, "It's Time". She admitted she was wrong not to support her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, when he decided to run for governor; she was wrong for not thinking her children could handle the spotlit roles as the governor's children. Shriver thanked her four children for handling their roles with grace and humor.

On the role of first lady of California, "I have learned I don't have to fill anyone else's shoes. It is enough to fill my own shoes," Shriver said.

To Reach Reporter Kristen Villarreal, click here.



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