Teens, tweens and their parents danced in the aisles, on their chairs and around the stage at the star-studded, Kids' Inaugural Concert honoring military families on Saturday, Jan. 19, in Washington, D.C.
First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife, kicked off the event at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. surrounded by their children and grandchildren. A group of children from Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily, led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Amid cheers and applause, the first lady told the crowd of nearly 1,000 fans that although the swearing-in ceremony was a "pretty big deal," her favorite part of the weekend was "being right here with all of you.”
"When I think about what makes America great, I think about you, our men and women in uniform, our military spouses and our military kids," she said.
Headlined by Katy Perry, who showcased her patriotic spirit in a red, white and blue bustier and stars and stripes shorts, the event also featured performances by Usher; Glee cast members Amber Riley, Darren Criss and Naya Rivera; Mindless Behavior and The Soul Children of Chicago, who received rousing applause. Nick Cannon hosted the event, with D-Nice as DJ and Rocsi Diaz and J.R. Martinez as presenters. Attendees included the families of active duty, reserve and retired service members.
"Usher wanted to be here, Katy Perry wanted to be here, the folks from ‘Glee’ wanted to be here — they are not here for me, they are here for you,” the first lady said. “They know that military kids serve this country right alongside their moms and dads … they know the kind of sacrifices you make every day.”
“It was awesome and really fun to be a part of President Obama's inauguration. We also loved Katy Perry and showing our support for our military families,” said Helen Cooper, a third-grader at Maury Elementary School, who attended the concert with her sister, Alena, a first-grader at Maury, and friends Ciara O'Toole and Knox West.
“We all thought Michelle Obama's remarks in support of our nation’s military families and the children of military families were excellent and very poignant,” said Kevin Cooper, Alena and Helen’s father.
Allison Ingram of Alexandria said her daughter Mackenzie's favorite part was seeing Sasha and Malia and watching Katy Perry’s colorful finale.
“I thought it was cool that it was sort of a small intimate affair. It made the cause feel more personalized. For us, it was a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Ingram said.
Catie Poersch, also of Alexandria, said her favorite part of the concert was dancing and her sister Claire said she loved “dancing on my chair to Katy Perry.” Mom Jennifer said the family “felt honored to be a part of this special event.”
The concert was part of the ongoing work of “Joining Forces,” the organization started by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden to rally all Americans to recognize, honor, and support the nation’s military families, troops and veterans. The organization also provides education, training and employment resources for military families.
"The first lady and I are so excited to be here with all these military kids," Jill Biden said, sharing with the crowd the experience of her son Beau’s deployment to Iraq for a year.
When Perry took the stage, the crowd danced, chanted and sang along with her mega-hits “Teenage Dream,”” Fireworks” and “Part of Me.” She gave a special shout-out to President Obama.
"I'm so proud to be here, and to see the Obamas and the Bidens here for four more years,” she said as the crowd chanted “four more years” along with her.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe I just saw Katy Perry,” gushed Caitlyn Reynolds, 11, at the end of the show.