First lady recalls life as a military child at clap-out ceremony for DODEA seniors in Japan
Stars and Stripes May 22, 2023
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — Jill Biden drew on her experiences as a military child for a commencement address Sunday at this base south of Hiroshima.
As graduates of a Defense Department school, the 42 members of Matthew C. Perry High School’s senior class are “better prepared to face the future” than many of their peers, the first lady said in her address.
The base is home to Navy and Marine Corps squadrons of fighter and refueler aircraft, some of which are attached to Carrier Air Wing 5, which will depart soon for its regular patrol aboard the USS Ronald Reagan.
“As a military daughter and mom, as a nana to military-connected grandkids, and as your first lady, it is an honor to be with you today and to celebrate the M.C. Perry class of 2023,” Biden told an audience of more than 1,100 people on the school’s athletic field.
Biden spoke the same day her husband and other leaders of the world’s major industrial nations lined up next to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a three-day Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima. Zelenskyy arrived Saturday seeking continued support for his country in its now 14-month war with Russia.
The first lady — a teacher with a doctorate in educational leadership — mentioned her father, Donald Jacobs, who served in the Pacific as a Navy signalman during World War II. She also spoke about the difficulties military children face, from leaving behind homes and best friends to worrying about the safety of a loved one in harm’s way.
“Life as a military student isn’t simple,” she said. “Instead, your lives are painted in the deep, dark blues of your trials, and vivid magentas of your triumphs.”
The seniors will receive their diplomas during their official graduation ceremony on Friday, but Biden congratulated each of them after they walked down the field to cheers.
M.C. Perry graduate Madalynn Medina, 18, daughter of Navy Lt. Cmdr. Issac and Alicia Medina, told Stars and Stripes that the first lady’s speech was “emotional” and “accurately represented the life of a military child.”
“I thought she spoke very eloquently, and it actually made me a little sad because I’ve been military my whole life and I’ve moved like 10 times,” Medina said. “And it really hits home for me, and my dad just left today to go to the boat.”