Star-Powered Kids’ Inaugural Concert Salutes Military Families

First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters, and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, and her grandchildren, come out on stage during the Kids’ Inaugural Concert at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, January 19, 2013

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Washington, DC – From the opening notes of Grammy winner and multi-platinum recording star Usher to the final thanks of singer Katy Perry, military families all over the world were treated to a special thanks here last night (January 19).

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, hosted a star-studded tribute to military families at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center as a part of the presidential inauguration weekend and national day of service.

“We had a wonderful day of service today, and hundreds of thousands of people come from all 50 states to join in the celebration,” Obama said. “And let me tell you, I love every single minute of it. But I have to tell you that my very favorite part of this entire weekend is being right here with all of you — because for me, this is what inauguration is all about. It’s about celebrating who we are as Americans and all the things that make this country so great.”

The first lady told the audience that when she thinks about what America great, she thinks of the men and women in uniform, military spouses and “amazing” military kids.

In addition to the thousands of children watching the show live, children of military families from Fort Hood, Texas; Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; Camp Pendleton, Calif.; and Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla., watched via satellite broadcasts.

A special group of kids from Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, also watched excitedly from afar, as their eighth- grade classmates, visiting the nation’s capital for the inauguration, kicked off the show by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Throughout the show, hosted by Nick Cannon, and which included performances from Far East Movement and Mindless Behavior, a variety of celebrities thanked military families for their sacrifices.

Talk show hosts David Letterman and Ellen DeGeneres, military veteran and “Dancing With the Stars” winner J.R. Martinez, actress Kerry Washington, producer Ryan Seacrest and the Washington Wizards and Washington Nationals also paid tribute.

The first lady talked about what it means to be a military child and noted some of the hardships these children face.

“Think about how hard it is for military kids to be apart from the people they love most — how they miss their moms and dads every day and would do anything to have them back home,” Obama said. “And that’s just a glimpse of what it means to be a military kid. It means always thinking about things that are so much bigger than yourself.

“It means growing up just a little faster and working just a little harder than other kids,” she continued. “And it means doing the greatest thing you can ever do with your life at such a young age, and that is to serve our country.”

Obama said America’s military kids all are an important part of the greatest military on Earth.

“By supporting your families, you all are helping to protect this country and keep every single one of us safe,” she said. “You’re doing that. And Dr. Biden and I are so incredibly proud of you all.”

Biden noted she and the first lady planned from the beginning to make military families a priority.

“The first lady and I knew from the start that we wanted to celebrate the strength and service of our military families,” she said. “[This] is why we started Joining Forces — our effort to encourage all Americans to find ways to honor and support our troops, veterans and military families.”

After the show, two young concert-goers from Bethesda, Md., shared their appreciation for an “awesome” show.

“I personally liked the introduction of Usher,” 13-year old Parker Swensrud said. “I thought it was really awesome.” He added that he thought it was “really good” for Joining Forces to put a show like this together.

Swensrud’s younger brother, 9-year old Blake, agreed and said his favorite part of the show was also Usher’s introduction.. “It’s pretty cool, and it makes the military kids feel special,” Blake said.

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