By Terri Moon Cronk, American Forces Press Service / Published March 14, 2014
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joins First Lady Michelle Obama and Kermit the Frog in welcoming military families to a screening of the new movie "Muppets Most Wanted" March 12, 2014, at the White House. The trio thanked military families for their service, strength and resilience. (DOD photo/Army Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp)
WASHINGTON (AFNS) --
First Lady Michelle Obama hosted military children and their families at the White House yesterday for a special screening of the Disney motion picture “Muppets Most Wanted,” with an opening address by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey.
The event was part of the Joining Forces initiative, established in April 2011 by the first lady and Dr. Jill Biden, Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, to mobilize support for military families and veterans by all sectors of society.
“We want you to know how much we love the children of our men and women who serve in uniform,” said Dempsey, who was accompanied by his wife, Deanie. “You guys are terrific. We couldn’t do what we do without you.”
The nation’s top-ranking military officer had a few questions for the children before the movie.
“Why are teddy bears never hungry?” he asked them.
“Because they're always stuffed,” a child called out.
“You’re right,” Dempsey said. “What do you call a pig that knows karate?”
“Pork chop,” another answered.
“You guys are all over it,” the chairman told the children. “You’re ready for the movie. Finally, what is a frog’s favorite kind of music?”
“Hip hop!” several kids answered.
“Well, I know this movie is going to be funnier than the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” Dempsey joked.
Dempsey introduced the first lady as “someone very special to us as a military family -- someone who has spent her time in office with her husband making sure that we can take care of you,” he said.
Obama said she wanted the children to know why their attendance at the White House was important.
“We are incredibly proud of you,” she said, also acknowledging the presence of their parents and Gold Star family members. “I meet a lot of kids, and I am most impressed by our military kids, because I know you guys have a lot on your plates.
“When your parents are deployed, you have to be big boys and girls,” she continued. “You have to get your homework done. You have to stay out of trouble. You have to help out with your brothers and sisters. You have to behave. You have to be strong and brave.”
Obama said she is impressed with how the children handle those tasks, “in a way that makes us proud.”
“You guys are heroes,” she added. “So we thought you should be some of the first kids in the entire country that sees one of the best, coolest movies on the planet.”
But before the movie started, Obama said there was another “extra special” guest in the house, as she introduced the Muppets character Kermit the Frog, who stars in the movie.
“I would have been here sooner,” Kermit said as he joined Obama and Dempsey on the stage. “But it took me a while to get through security. And I still don't understand how a frog with no clothes could set off a metal detector.”
Kermit told the children it isn’t always easy being green. “And sometimes it’s not easy for you guys -- for your moms and dads who wear a green uniform, a blue or white one. But you guys have to be just as tough as them.”
Military children often move from town to town every couple of years and have to make new friends, Kermit noted. “I know you wish your mom and dad could be around more than they are. But because of that, you’re all strong and brave and very grown-up, and that's very cool. And I wish I had been that cool when I was a tadpole.”
Dempsey awarded the “senior Muppet” with his personal challenge coin to honor what he’s done for military children. “Kermit, on behalf of the armed forces, and especially on behalf of this group of great Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine spouses and children, I’d like to give you this coin,” he said.
“You are all amazing,” Kermit told the audience as the movie commenced. “I may not be a Marine, but I am marine life. I salute you.”