Colleen Barry: Michelle Obama Meets US Troops In Italy; Recalls Charleston
Michelle Obama’s thoughts turned to those grieving for nine people killed in a U.S. church as she visited Friday with American soldiers and their families stationed in northern Italy. “We have seen too many tragedies like this,” Mrs. Obama said of the attack in a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. “There is something particularly horrifying about something that happens so senseless in a house of worship.” She added: “I pray for a community that I know is in pain with the hope that tragedies like these will one day come to an end.” The U.S. first lady was visiting at the U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza, thanking hundreds of the troops and their families for their service.
U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday had expressed anger and sadness over the slayings at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. “As my husband said yesterday, simply saying our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and community of Charleston does not convey the heartache,” Mrs. Obama said. Her time with the troops and their families included reading a book to children, and visiting with about 30 expectant mothers to discuss the challenges faced by military families overseas. The families live in an area that includes housing units and an elementary and middle school. She spent a good half hour giving hugs and shaking hands. Her daughters Malia and Sasha helped her scoop out ice cream. About 500 people were attending a barbecue on the middle school’s athletic fields.
A little over a year ago, we started tossing around ideas about how we could collaborate with Mrs. Obama. At the time, having her serve as the first-ever guest editor of More seemed like a crazy dream, but it was at the top of my list. We knew that partnering on an issue would be a lot of work—I’m not sure the White House understood exactly how much!—but we were thrilled when they said yes.
This is truly the First Lady’s issue. From the beginning, she said she didn’t want the whole magazine to be about her. It was hard to take off my editor’s hat and not focus all of my attention on the person on the cover. Instead, we shifted our focus to the people, causes and opportunities she cares about.The First Lady always asks how her initiatives—Let’s Move, Joining Forces, Reach Higher and Let Girls Learn—are moving the needle and having more impact on the world. We hope this issue will empower readers to create positive change, whether by supporting one of the First Lady’s programs or another cause.
She’s a wife, mother and lawyer, an advocate for children and military families, and first lady of the United States. Now Michelle Obama has added a new gig: magazine editor. The first lady is “guest editor” of the July-August issue of More, which bills itself as the magazine for “women of style and substance.” It was a first for both the White House and the magazine industry, said Lesley Jane Seymour, More’s editor-in-chief. “There’s never been a first lady who’s ever guest-edited a magazine and certainly not a sitting first lady,” Seymour told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “She’s really the editor,” Seymour said. She said the edition focuses on Mrs. Obama’s “point of view on the world and it’s from her eyes.” “Guest editor” wasn’t just a fancy title. The first lady had to pitch story ideas and write and approve copy for the 148-page issue, Seymour said.
She “was reading every page and asking for changes up until the last minute,” Seymour said. “She had to approve absolutely everything. She had to suggest various things, too.” Staff handled stories about fashion and beauty, along with basic functions of the magazine. The theme of the issue is having “More Impact.” Mrs. Obama said she welcomed the opportunity to share some of her White House experiences with like-minded readers. “What I want readers to understand is that impact comes in all forms, shapes and sizes. And hopefully through this issue, what people will see is that you can have impact as a military mom changing careers, or you can be a young person starting a business or you can be the first lady and start a whole initiative,” Mrs. Obama said in a written statement released by More. The issue highlights the first lady’s four priorities: helping children live healthier lives, supporting military families, encouraging young people to pursue education past high school and helping girls around the world attend and stay in school. It also includes pieces on her long-serving chief of staff and senior adviser, two women who have influenced the first lady’s work.
When Barack was first running for President back in 2008, I made what I thought was an innocuous comment about how, if he were elected, my most important job would be “mom-in-chief.” The response was swift and passionate. Some people thought this was great, a sign that I had my priorities in order and was doing what was right for my family. Some were less positive, concerned that I was devaluing my professional achievements and ambitions.
As for me, I was just confused. The way I saw it, embracing my role as mom-in-chief didn’t mean dismissing what I’d accomplished in my career or shortchanging the important work of being First Lady—on the contrary, I planned to pour myself into the job and do everything I could to have a real impact on people’s lives. I was just stating a simple truth: The most important thing in my life is raising my two daughters.