CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — First lady Michelle Obama said Saturday that the U.S. military specialists who killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden showed "the very essence" of public service.
Obama made her first public remarks about bin Laden's death during the commencement address at the University of Northern Iowa. U.S. officials said Navy SEALs shot and killed bin Laden and four others Monday at his luxury compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
"Just imagine, a small group of brave men, dropped by helicopter, half a world away in the dead of night into unknown danger inside the lair of the most wanted man in the world," Obama told the graduating class at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls. "They did not hesitate, risking everything for us, for our freedom and security. And they did it not just as Navy SEALs. They did it as husbands, as fathers, as sons. Their families were back here, with no idea of their mission or whether their loved one would ever come home."
The first lady evoked the SEALs' actions as part of a call for the graduating class to engage in public service after they leave the university.
"Now, that's the very essence of the word 'service,' " she said of the military action. "And the least we can do is give something back to these troops and their families who have given us so much."
President Barack Obama met Friday in Fort Campbell, Ky., with some of the Navy SEALs who led the raid on bin Laden's compound and presented them with the Presidential Unit Citation, the highest honor for a military unit.