Prince Harry’s Speech at the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Orlando Invictus Games
8 May 2016
I cannot tell you how proud and excited I am to open the second Invictus games here in America.
I'm a long way from London tonight. But when I look out and I see so many familiar faces, servicemen and women, their friends and their families and all the people who have got them here - I feel like I'm at home.
I spent 10 years in the British Army and I was deployed to Afghanistan twice. I served alongside soldiers from all over the world. I saw the sacrifices you and your families made to serve your nations. I learned about the importance of teamwork and camaraderie in a way that only military service can teach you. And when I travelled back from the battlefield on a plane carrying the body of a Danish soldier and three young Brits, fighting for their lives, I began to understand the real, permanent cost of war.
I joined the Army because, for a long time, I just wanted to be one of the guys. But what I learned through serving was that the extraordinary privileges of being a Prince gave me an extraordinary opportunity to help my military family. That's why I had to create the Invictus Games - to build a platform for all those who have served to prove to the world what they have to offer.
Over the next four days, you will see things that in years past just wouldn’t have been possible. You will see people who by rights should have died on the battlefield - but instead they are going for gold on the track or in the pool. You will be inspired, you will be moved, and I promise you will be entertained.
While I have your attention, though, I want to briefly speak about an issue that for far too many of you is shrouded in shame and fear. An issue that is just as important for many of you watching at home as it is for those of you in this stadium tonight.
It is not just physical injuries that our Invictus competitors have overcome. Every single one of them will have confronted tremendous emotional and mental challenges. When we give a standing ovation to the competitor with the missing limbs, let’s also cheer our hearts out for the man who overcame anxiety so severe he couldn’t leave his house. Let’s cheer for the woman who fought through post-traumatic stress and let’s celebrate the soldier who was brave enough to get help for his depression.
Over the next four days you will get to know these amazing competitors. They weren't too tough to admit that they struggled with their mental health, and they weren't too tough to get the help they needed.
To those of you watching at home and who are suffering from mental illness in silence - whether a veteran or a civilian, a mum or a dad, a teenager or a grandparent - I hope you see the bravery of our Invictus champions who have confronted invisible injuries, and I hope you are inspired to ask for the help that you need.
To end, can I just say thank you to all of you guys.
You are fierce competitors.
You are role models that any parent would be proud to have their children follow.
You've made me a better person. You are about to inspire the world and I’m proud to call you my friends.
So, let’s put on a hell of a show in memory of all of our fallen comrades who didn’t make it back.
We are Invictus!
Remarks by the First Lady at the 2016 Invictus Games Opening Ceremony
MRS. OBAMA: Well, hello everyone! (Applause.) Are we having fun tonight? (Applause.) Well, it is truly an honor to be here tonight to help kick off this year’s Invictus Games.
I, of course, want to start by thanking Prince Harry for his outstanding leadership and for bringing the Invictus Games here to Orlando. He is truly our Prince Charming, isn’t he? (Applause.) And he should be proud of himself for this work.
Now, in return, I have generously asked the U.S. Team not to win too much, right? (Laughter.) It’s really the least we can do, right? (Laughter.) But seriously, I have loved getting to know Prince Harry and his remarkable family. And I am thrilled to join him here tonight with all of you.
I also want to recognize a devoted advocate for our men and women in uniform -- the Honorary Chair of these Games, and our friend, former President George W. Bush, and our fabulous former First Lady, Laura Bush. (Applause.) And of course, I want to thank Ken Fisher and his family for their tremendous support of this event, but more importantly, for their tireless commitment over many years to our military community. Ken, you're amazing. (Applause.)
But most of all, I'm here to honor all of you -- our extraordinary servicemembers, our veterans and, of course, our military families. You all are amazing. (Applause.) Truly amazing.
Over the past five years, through our Joining Forces initiative, I've had the privilege of meeting so many of you. And like Prince Harry, I am so incredibly inspired by all of you. I’m inspired by your courage, by your love of country. I’m inspired by the sacrifices you all make every single day, particularly the wounded warriors and the caregivers who show such strength and resilience in the face of challenges that most of us can’t even imagine.
In the course of your recoveries, you’ve endured surgery after surgery, and months, even years of painstaking rehabilitation. And you still tell us that you would do it all again if you were given the chance to serve your country. (Applause.) Absolutely. And look at you now. Today, you are here competing in these Games, and you are achieving amazing athletic feats. It's just -- I'm so proud of you all.
And as for our caregivers, let's give it up for our caregivers. (Applause.) I've met so many of you. We know how you all dropped everything when your loved one was injured; how you stepped up to manage all the appointments and the medication, and all the finances, often juggling a job and raising kids at the same time.
And ultimately, that’s really what the Invictus Games and Joining Forces are all about. They’re about shining this big, bright light on all of you -- on all of you. They’re about sharing your stories and your achievements with the world, so that we all can be inspired to live up to your example.
That’s why we’re here tonight. That's why I'm here tonight. And that's why I'm so proud of you all. That's why I love you all so much. That's why I will keep working for you all as long as I'm alive. (Applause.) So I wish you all all the best of luck in your competitions. And I hope you have a lot of fun along the way. Have fun!
And now it is now my pleasure to introduce one of our fabulous Invictus Games Ambassadors, a legend of the silver screen and one of my favorite people in the world -- ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Morgan Freeman. (Applause.)