First Lady stops in RI for traditional ceremony - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

First Lady stops in RI for traditional ceremony

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By: Alexandra Cowley 

Michelle Obama in North Kingstown Monday at Electric Boat for the traditional keel laying ceremony of the USS Illinois. The First Lady is the sponsor of the submarine named after her home state. The first lady spoke from the heart about the honor of being the sponsor of a sub named after her home state, and to support the men and women of the Navy who she says are often forgotten.

"I'm beyond excited and I am truly honored and I couldn't be more proud that I have my daughters Malia and Sasha who've joined me as maids of honor for this vessel," smiled Mrs. Obama. 

The First Lady joked the girls couldn't be here because they had tests to take. She thanked all the workers at Electric Boat who create and build the sophisticated submarines.

"I'e heard you all are some of the most skilled shipbuilders around," she said. 

For most of her speech, she spoke towards the sailors who will serve on the new sub. She referred to them as the silent service.

"We often don't hear about folks like you, deployed at sea hundreds of feet below the waves, so we have no idea that for months at a time you don't see the sun," Michelle explained.

Her recognition hit home for the sailors.

"Her being here is really just a tangible presence that I can show my guys that hey they are supported when we go to sea," said Jessie Porter, commanding officer of the USS Illinois. 

The first lady wrote her initials in chalk. Which were welded onto the steel plate by veteran employee Michael Macomber.

"It was an honor, very big honor. I mean i'm just a blue collar guy, I worked here for 37 years, it was like a feather in my cap for my career," smiled Macomber.

The plate will be placed on the sub at its completion. It will be delivered to the Navy in 2016. 

(C) WLNE-TV 2014 

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