Newswise — Washington, D.C. –– September 16, 2016 – First Lady Michelle Obama and former First Lady Laura Bush were joined by historians, former staff members, and White House-insiders for a unique conference held at the National Archives on September 16, 2016. Entitled “America’s First Ladies: In Service to Our Nation”, the event was organized by American University School of Public Affairs in partnership with the American University Library, the White House Historical Association, Joining Forces, the George W. Bush Institute and the National Archives and Records Administration.

The 6th in the annual series of American University’s Legacies of America’s First Ladies discussions that examine the initiatives and inspirations of presidential spouses, the event focused on the role of the president’s wife as the spouse of the Commander in Chief.

"There is something that everyone can do to support this community, but the Commander-in-Chief, the First Family, the Second Family, the Vice President -- they have an obligation to set that tone -- I think Laura said that earlier,” said Michelle Obama. “With this platform, you can raise the bar high on this issue. So I would hope that this responsibility comes with the house, and that every administration will try to top the next one in what they do for these men and women."

"Our troops are courageous and resilient," said Laura Bush. "They volunteer to defend our country, and I hope they feel our gratitude when they return home. But now it is up to us to serve them, and through the work of the Bush Institute's Military Service Initiative, President Bush and I are helping our veterans transition back to civilian life."

The conference shone a spotlight on the actions that First Ladies have taken throughout the centuries to support and empower America’s service members, veterans, and their families. Attendees heard firsthand accounts from the First Ladies of the experiences and bonds they forged through such programs as the White House Joining Forces Initiative and the Military Service Initiative at the Bush Institute as well as what inspired them to lead on issues affecting American children and women and girls around the world.

“Throughout our history first ladies have used their platform to advocate for important issues affecting the nation,” noted Conference Chair Anita McBride, Executive-in-Residence at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University School of Public Affairs and former Chief of Staff to First Lady Laura Bush. “We are delighted that once again American University, together with our partners, has hosted this conference to examine and honor the work of America’s First Ladies and their power to shape societal attitudes and affect change.”

American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 140 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.