First Lady Michelle Obama had a special treat for military families on Wednesday afternoon, March 12, 2014 at the White House's South Court Auditorium a special preview screening of the new Muppets movie from Disney, 'Muppets Most Wanted' part of the Joining Forces initiative. The movie opens in theatres throughout the country on Friday, March 21, 2014.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, who was present, showed a rare and humorous side to himself to the public. Dempsey started the event off joking with the crowd to "warm them up" and "see if they were awake," prior to introducing First Lady Michelle Obama. Dempsey joked; "Why are teddy bears never hungry? Because they're always stuffed." "What do you call a pig that knows karate? Pork chop." "What is a frog's favorite kind of music? Hip hop."
The families and children present had a special visitor at the movie screening, none other than one of its stars, Kermit the Frog, whose banter with the first lady was one of the highlights of the screening. Greeting the first lady Kermit kissed her hand, saying "That's what they do in Europe," which Mrs. Obama thought was "very fancy."
Referencing the tough security measures at the White House, Kemit apologized for being a bit late, excusing himself with a joke; "I would have been here sooner. I did get to take pictures with everybody earlier, 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, but…" It was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who finished the punch line, referring to the brass on his military uniform; "You ought to see -- try to get through with this on."
Kermit did a lot of comparisons to the Miss Piggy, asking Mrs. Obama; "Could I call you Michelle?" which she responded "Oh, please do. Please do." Kermit explained; "Yes, it's mostly because I have to call Miss Piggy Her Highness. You guys will know what I mean when you see the movie."
The second comparison was when the first lady told Kermit; "I think you're very cool and I think you're very smart too." With Kermit complimenting Mrs. Obama, saying; "Well, thank you, thank you. And I think you are very nice, much nicer than Miss Piggy." Both agreed, as the first lady observed; "Oh, well, that's kind of a low bar." To which Kermit quipped; "You're right. You're right. She doesn't raise it very high."
The guest of honor was presented with an award in the form of a coin by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The nation's highest military officer commended the Muppet; "Well, I would like to take this opportunity to make a special presentation to Kermit, because of what Kermit has done for all of you. I'd like to give Kermit, as the senior Muppet, a coin from the senior military officer… So, 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."
Bashful and grateful Kermit kept saying in disbelief; "Oh, my goodness." And was excited, responding; "That is wonderful. Thank you. I feel so honored and I can't wait to show this to the gang." The first lady expressed; "Well, that is a very big privilege."
Although Kermit might have received an award the first lady and Muppet star honored the military children at the event for being heroes.
The first lady told the kids at the event; "we are incredibly proud of you, first of all…. I am most impressed by our military kids, because I know you guys have a lot on your plates. You have to be strong and brave. And the thing I'm always impressed is that you do all this and you do it in a way that makes us proud. Do you know that, that we are so proud of you? You guys are heroes. Do you know that? I want you to know that. That's why you're at the White House, because you are our special guests and our heroes."
While Kermit also praised the children at the screening; "It's true that I'm here today because of all you kids. I always say it's not easy being green, and that sometimes it's not easy for you guys, for your moms and dads who wear a green uniform or a blue one or a white one. But you guys have to be just as tough as them, you know? We understand what that means... But because of all of you and your -- because of that you're all strong and brave and very grown up. And that's very cool."
Before leaving and the start of the movie's screening, both the first lady and Kermit again honored the military families present. Kermit expressed; "thanks again to all of you military families for everything that you do. You are all amazing…. I may not be a Marine, but I am marine life. I salute you." Mrs. Obama concluded; "We are so proud of you and we are blessed to have you on our team."
First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden started the Joining Forces initiative in 2011 to support members of the military, veterans and their families.
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. Her specializations are US, Canadian & Israeli politics.