Fort Lee moms celebrate at White House
May 15, 2012
FORT LEE, Va. (May 15, 2012) -- Four Fort Lee Soldier moms received an invitation of a lifetime recently when they and their children were selected to attend the 2012 White House Mother's Day Tea with first lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden on May 10.
The Fort Lee guests were Maj. Tanzie Landry-McGee, executive officer, 244th Quartermaster Battalion, 23rd QM Brigade, and her daughter Tazia; Sgt. Major Jennifer Wicks, Active Guard Reserve Transportation Corps and Transportation School sergeant major, and her sons Xavier Callender and Jadien Wicks; 1st Lt. Fareedah Blount, 59th Ordnance Brigade, S-3 Operations officer, and her son Remun Costa; Sgt. 1st Class Naomi Rankins, Fort Lee Religious Support Office, senior chaplain assistant, and her son Taylor. Only five Army Soldiers were present for the occasion.
They dined on blueberry scones, tuna tartare and cucumber watercress sandwiches set on the 2008 Inaugural china in the East Room of the White House. Jasmine Pearl green tea, Earl Grey tea, "Bo" (the first dog) cookies, milk and fruit juices were also served at the annual tea hosted by the first lady.
They all said they were impressed by the beauty of the White House, the grounds, the first lady and Biden.
"Photos and television don't do their grace and beauty justice," Rankins said. "They were stunning."
"Once we entered the grounds, it was heaven sent," Wicks said. "The blue skies and white clouds leading into the Rose Garden were quite a beautiful sight."
Once inside the White House, the children were taken to another room to create gifts for their mothers. When they returned, each mom received a terra-cotta pot with grass and roses from the Rose Garden.
Obama began her speech thanking the members of the Armed Forces present for their service.
"She told us she knew it must be hard to be a mom in uniform," Wicks said. "She spoke about how hard it must be for us to leave our Families to take care of the country."
Biden spoke about the work she and Obama do with the Joining Forces initiative and said they do it to give back to America's military Families, Wicks said.
"It is very nice to know that our Families are not forgotten since they are the ones who are affected the most while we are serving in uniform and defending our country," she said.
Blount said she felt the first lady's speech was heartfelt, warm and inviting. "She wanted to ensure that we understand there is a network out there for anyone of us who may need support," Blount said. "You could feel her kind words came from her heart and weren't just words on paper."
"The first lady also thanked us and told us on her long days she thinks of the women in the military and keeps pressing on," Wicks said. "She told us our children's behavior was a reflection of our strength and the good decisions we've made raising them. That meant a lot to us all."
Obama and Biden took time to visit with the people at each of the 14 tables and take photos with the guests.
Landry-McGee and her daughter were excited to be the first members of their Family to visit the White House.
"It was a very nice visit," she said. "The rooms were nicely decorated and a piano played as we entered the room. Tazia wanted to take a photo with everyone including the harp and piano players."
The two sat at the hostess's table with Marian Robinson, the first lady's mother and Tina Tchen, chief of staff for Michelle Obama.
Tchen was very interested in what Tazia had to say, said Landry-McGee.
"They engaged in a lot of conversation," she said.
The women all agreed that they were extremely fortunate to be chosen to visit the White House and meet Obama and Biden and the other guests at the special event and that their children realized the magnitude of the event.
"We all have a list of people we'd like to meet before we leave this Earth and Mrs. Obama was one of those people on my list," Blount said. "My son definitely realized how important this was. He planned to visit his friend's house afterward to tell everyone he was in the president's house and met his wonderful wife."