Michelle Obama serves steak in military canteen in Germany

Thursday, November 11, 2010

RAMSTEIN - First Lady Michelle Obama donned an apron and served steak to air force personnel standing in line at a US military-base canteen in Germany Thursday.

Her 30-minute stint as a canteen lady at the Ramstein Air Force Base marked Veterans’ Day, an annual US holiday honouring former military personnel.

In an ensuing speech before US soldiers and their relatives, she thanked military families abroad for the sacrifices they make, telling her listeners in Germany that she is their voice in the White House.

She made the trip without her husband Barack Obama, who is in Seoul, South Korea, for a Group of 20 summit.

Base personnel were encouraged to show up at the restaurant through an announcement of free steak and did not know there would be a VIP guest, a military spokesman said, though the German media had reported several days before that the visit would be taking place.

The first lady also visited soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan in the nearby US military hospital at Landstuhl.

Defence realignments in recent years have reduced the US military presence in Germany, but an estimated 50,000 US nationals live in the area, on and off base. Ramstein is a major air transport staging post.

Obama, who had earlier accompanied her husband to India and Indonesia, also spent half an hour getting to know Bettina Wulff, the wife of Germany’s mainly ceremonial president, Christian Wulff.

There were no appearances for the German public and only a small group of local media were allowed to cover her visit.

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