What a night! What a crowd! Thank you, Angie—I'm so proud of you and how far you've come. I'm so proud to stand before you tonight not only as the wife of our vice president, but as a full-time teacher and a military mom. I'm here for our son, Beau, and for all of our troops, veterans and military families.
Four years ago, Beau stood on this stage to introduce his father, and soon afterward, he deployed to Iraq for a year with the Delaware Army National Guard. Tonight, thanks to the leadership of President Obama and my husband Joe, the war in Iraq is over.
I'm also here tonight for my students—students like Angie—who work so hard to create a better life for themselves and their families. I've been a teacher for more than 30 years, and to this day, I continue to teach full time at a community college in northern Virginia.
Not long after Joe was elected vice president, people started questioning whether I could keep teaching. Not Joe. He was there, standing by my side, saying, "Of course you should. It's who you are, Jill." For me, being a teacher isn't just what I do—it's who I am. These issues are personal to me. And for the more than 37 years I've known Joe, I've seen firsthand just how personal they are to him, too.
Joe often tells people that I didn't agree to marry him until the fifth time he asked me. The truth is that I loved him from the start. I saw in him then the same character that I see in him today. I've seen Joe's character in his optimism. For families who have lost a loved one, kids struggling to find their way, workers out of a job, Joe always works to give people a sense of hope.
I've also seen Joe's character in his determination. Two decades ago, when Joe started working on the Violence Against Women Act, domestic violence was often treated as a private family matter rather than the crime it is. But Joe knew that he had to bring this issue out into the open.
And in the years since that bill passed, I've had women tell me that their sisters or their friends wouldn't be alive today—if it weren't for Joe.
Finally, I've seen Joe's character in his heart. When I first met him, Joe had already seen just how fragile life could be. When he was 29 years old, Joe lost his first wife and baby daughter in a tragic car accident while they were out getting their Christmas tree, and the boys were critically injured. Joe's life was shattered. But through his strong Catholic faith and his fierce love for our boys, Joe found the strength to get back up.
That's Joe—that optimism, that determination, that big, strong heart that drives him forward every day. It's what he learned as a young boy growing up with two hard-working parents in Scranton, Pennsylvania. It's what makes him such a loving and supportive father of our three children: Beau, Hunter and Ashley. And it's what drives him today as he and President Obama fight to strengthen the middle class they grew up in.
For as long as I've known him, Joe has never given up, never failed to see the possibilities and never had any doubt about who he's fighting for.
And as long as he has the privilege of serving this nation, I know, from the bottom of my heart, that he will continue to fight for you every day.
Thank you. God bless our troops, and God bless our military families.
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