From Sunlen Miller
The second time was the charm for First Lady Michelle Obama – as she formally christened the Stratton, a U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter today in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
After her first try breaking a champagne bottle on the side of the boat, the second whap cracked the bottle and champagne squirted out -- and on -- the First Lady.
The ship is named in honor of U.S. Coast Guard’s first female commissioned officer and director of the SPARS, the US Coast Guard Women’s Reserve during World War II, Dorothy C. Stratton, who passed away in 2006 at the age of 107.
“As a woman, and as a mother of two daughters, as an American, I stand in awe of her life of service,” Mrs. Obama said, “And after all these years later, all of us -- whether you’re a woman or a man, Coast Guard or another service, whether you’re military or civilian -- every American can be inspired by her example.”
Mrs. Obama announced last July that she would serve as the ship’s sponsor – and while the event today was mostly celebratory, Mrs. Obama took time to address the situation in the region following April’s oil spill.
“Our Coast Guard men and women were the first on the scene when that rig exploded, and they have been here ever since,” Mrs. Obama said. “They are making a difference every day, and they’re keeping even more oil off the beaches. So along with all our men and women in uniform who are lending a hand, they deserve our thanks.”
The First Lady this morning received a briefing on the Gulf oil spill at the Jackson County Emergency Operations Center.
“We’re all relieved that the leak appears to have been stopped for now,” she said, “ And today, I can share some more good news. About one-third of the federal waters in the Gulf that were closed to fishing -- more than 25,000 square miles -- have been reopened. Also, the seafood from these waters has been tested and it is safe to eat. But I want you to know that the President, his administration, they are doing everything they can to get you all back fishing right here in Mississippi, too.”
Noting the upcoming storm Mrs. Obama still pitched for people to vacation on the beaches still unaffected by the spill, like her family who will head to the region for vacation next month.
“Even though there may be some bad weather in the next few days, the best way that this country can help this region is to come down here, right, come here -- visit, support these communities,” and added, “we’re going to come down for a little family vacation next month. And we can’t wait.”