Remarks by the First Lady at a Nowruz Reception

March 20, 2023

THE FIRST LADY: Hello. Welcome to the White House. And E- -- (applause) -- and Eid-eh Shoma Mobarak! (Applause.)

"For the feeling of peace
for the sun after these long nights…
for women, life, and freedom
…freedom, for freedom, for freedom." (Applause.)

Those lyrics are so powerful, aren't they?


THE FIRST LADY: When I first heard "Baraye," I was stunned by the courage of this song and the women it lifts up.

Shervin Hajipour was arrested, but not before his video was seen 40 million times in two days. (Applause.) Not before his music became an anthem for freedom, sung in the streets.

And that's why, in February, I was so honored to announce that Shervin had won a Grammy. (Applause.)

And earlier this month, here in this room, we recognized the bravy [sic] of -- bravery of Iranian women and girls fighting for freedom at the International Women of Courage awards. (Applause.)

Today, as the battle cry of "women, life, freedom" continues to reverberate around the world, we cannot celebrate the renewal of spring without thinking of them. This new year, they, too, should be surrounded by support and kindness.

So, to the girls and women of Iran, I want to say: Your song sings in our hearts. We see your struggle, and we stand with you. You are not alone. (Applause.)

Their courage is reflected in everyone who celebrates this holiday. And so, together, we plant our hopes on the Haft-Sin table, weaving them among the sprouts of wheat or lentils, watering them with visions of victories we seek this new year.

Like seeds breaking through the earth, our hopes reach towards each shining sunrise, nourished by the healing that we find together, our love for one another, the wisdom gained from the year now finished, and the patience we learn from our ancestors.

Even as we are renewed, we are rooted in the history that lives inside of us, the families who shaped us, and the shoulders on which we stand.

History lives in this house as well, hammered into the beams of these walls and swirling in the marble of each fireplace. It tells the stories and legends of where we've come from and who we've -- who we've been.

And yet, standing here in front of a beautiful Haft-Sin; hearing music by DJ Danny -- (laughter); and as we eat incredible food prepared by Chef Nasim Alikhani -- (applause) -- where are you? Where are you, Chef? I met you earlier. She must be here. Ah, somewhere? Well, you'll eat her food a little later. (Laughter.)

We know that the White House, too, can grow and evolve and begin something new. With our unique talents and traditions, with our love and laughter, with our faith in the future that we want, we breathe new life into these halls.

This is an historic house, but you make it a home, alive with purpose and possibility. So, let us begin once again, be reborn in hope and healing, wisdom and love.

And now, it is my pleasure to introduce astronaut and future commanding -- commander of our next mission to the International Space Station, Lieutenant Colonel Jasmin Moghbeli. (Applause.)

LIEUTENANT COLONEL MOGHBELI: Thank you so much, Dr. Biden.

Wow. Never as a kid standing around the Haft-Sin for the Sal Tahvil could I have imagined I would get to say these next words right here in the White House: Nowruz Eide Shoma Mobarak. (Applause.)

Nowruz means "new day." It is the celebration of the arrival of spring and all the hope that comes with it. It is a holiday full of symbolism, with each element of the Haft-Sin -- or seven S's -- being representative.

Growing up, my brother and I took part in preparing the Haft-Sin. We would help grow the sabzeh, a symbol of rebirth and growth, which often came in the form of a chia pet in our household. (Laughter.) The goldfish, a symbol of progress, was often one that my brother or I had won at a school fair. The ayeneh -- or mirror -- that we used, a symbol of self-reflection, was the same one that had been used at my parents' wedding, would eventually be used at my wedding, and now sits at my family's Haft-Sin table.

And this year, for the first time, my daughters were able to participate as well by decorating the eggs and growing the sabzeh at our Haft-Sin.

Last week, I went back to my elementary school and spent some time with the young students there. I remember when I was a student, my mom would come in each Nowruz and speak to the -- my classmates about the holiday and our culture. It was at that same elementary school that my dream of someday becoming an astronaut began.

While visiting, one of the students asked me, "Are you going to be the first woman to walk on the moon?" They're referring to NASA's Artemis program, which just last year completed its first test flight, Artemis 1, and will soon return astronauts to the Moon, paving the way for future human missions to Mars. (Applause.) Thank you.

I answered simply and honestly, "I don't know. But I could be."

Isn't it amazing that I could say with complete honesty, as an Iranian American woman who wasn't even born here, that I have just as much chance as anyone else of being on the Artemis 3 mission? (Applause.) That I've even had the opportunity to become a NASA astronaut in the first place, and that later this year, my lifelong dream of launching to space will come true as I will have the honor of commanding the Crew-7 mission to the International Space Station. (Applause.)

Each Nowruz, we give thanks for our blessings and look ahead to the future. Even during difficult times, we hope for renewal and transformation.

Reflecting on this past year, I stand here so proud of my Persian heritage but also incredibly proud to be an American. (Applause.)

It is now one of the greatest privileges of my life to introduce someone who celebrates the many vibrant cultures and traditions that make up our nation, someone who understands the importance of taking everyone with us as we push the boundaries of exploration that, in doing so, we benefit America, our beautiful planet, and those on it.

Please welcome -- please join me in welcoming the President of the United States, Joe Biden. (Applause.)

Jill Biden, Remarks by the First Lady at a Nowruz Reception Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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