updated 01/20/2009 AT 6:00 AM ET
•originally published 01/20/2009 AT 8:35 AM ET
Entering Washington, D.C.’s Verizon Center on the eve of her husband’s inauguration, the soon-to-be first lady – accompanying daughters Sasha and Malia – was greeted by a crowd of 14,000 going wild and screaming: “We love you Michelle!”
Before calling upon the nation’s youth to serve their country, Mrs. Obama pumped up her audience, many of whom were military families invited to attend the concert for free.
“Barack and I are so thankful for the military sacrifice that helps make our nation safe,” she told them. “We join you all today and every day in praying for your loved ones and their safety.”
As a beaming Sasha and Malia took photos of their mom on stage, Mrs. Obama said, “You kids are the future of this great nation. And at this extraordinary moment in our nation’s history, we wanted you to be able to join in on this celebration and share this incredible journey with us.”
Message to Youngsters
To her young audience both watching over TV and sitting in the Verizon Center, Mrs. Obama said, “You don’t need to wear a uniform to serve this country … We all have something incredible to contribute to the life of this nation. And kids, this means you, too.
“We need every American to serve their community including young people. Whether that is volunteering at a homeless shelter or visiting an elderly person, whether it is picking up trash, writing letters to our troops, we can all do something special.
“We can all work to make this great nation one filled with hope and prosperity.”
Sasha and Malia Star Gaze
After the concert, which aired on the Disney Channel, Mrs. Obama and Sasha and Malia met backstage with many of the girls’ favorites, including Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato and Keke Palmer.
Of seeing the Obamas and Bidens dancing in the front row of his and his brothers’ concert, Joe Jonas said, “It was awesome. I had to get them up on stage and celebrate together.” Said sibling Nick Jonas: “I’d like to live at the White House one day.”
The mood clearly was felt throughout the auditorium. Perry Rubin, a 13-year-old from Brentwood, Calif., who served as a backstage correspondent, observed of the Obama girls, “You could tell they were really excited, but they were also really calm and collected like their mom. Michelle Obama is my idol!”