Prince Harry, Michelle Obama Kick Off Invictus Games in Florida

By Andrew Simontacchi, Epoch Times
May 9, 2016 10:24 am Last Updated: May 9, 2016 12:58 pm

First Lady Michelle Obama, among other world famous figures, helped Britain’s Prince Harry kick off the Invictus Games for the second year in a row.

The Games, offered for wounded servicemen and women, are being held in Orlando, Fla., at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex from May 8 to 12.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am to have the second Invictus Games open in America,” Prince Harry said, according to The Guardian. “I’m a long way from London tonight, but when I look out, I see so many familiar faces, servicemen and women, their friends and their families and all of the people who got them here. I feel like I’m at home.”

Prince Harry and Michelle Obama attend The Invictus Games Orlando 2016 - Opening Ceremony on May 8, 2016 in Florida.  (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Invictus Games)
Prince Harry and Michelle Obama attend The Invictus Games Orlando 2016 – Opening Ceremony on May 8, 2016, in Florida. (Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Invictus Games)

Joining the first lady and the prince were former U.S. President George W. Bush, actor Morgan Freeman, and singers James Blunt and Laura Wright, to name a few.

The 500 athletes, from 14 different countries, will compete in the Paralympic-style games over a 4-day span. They are men and women who have been face-to-face with adversities and life-changing injuries.

“I’ve had the privilege of meeting so many of you, and like Prince Harry, I am so incredibly inspired by all of you,” Michelle Obama said during the the Games’ opening. “I’m inspired by your courage, by your love of country, I’m inspired by the sacrifices you all make everyday, particularly the wounded warriors and their care givers.”

Prince Harry and Michelle Obama meet children of servicemen and women during the Opening Ceremony of the Invictus Games Orlando 2016 at ESPN Wide World of Sports on May 8, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Invictus)
Prince Harry and Michelle Obama meet children of servicemen and women during the Opening Ceremony of the Invictus Games Orlando 2016 at ESPN Wide World of Sports on May 8, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Invictus)

The prince created The Invictus Games to “harness the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, and generate a wider understanding and respect for those who serve their country,” according to the Games’ website. 

In 2014, Prince Harry said of the Games: 

“These Games have shone a spotlight on the ‘unconquerable’ character of service men and women and their families and their ‘Invictus’ spirit. These Games have been about seeing guys sprinting for the finish line and then turning round to clap the last man in. They have been about teammates choosing to cross the line together, not wanting to come second, but not wanting the other guys to either. These Games have shown the very best of the human spirit.”

At the start of the ceremony, athletes, dressed in the garb of their represented country, filed into ESPN World’s Champion Stadium as thousands of fans cheered and celebrated their service. After completing their walk-in, multiple musicians performed, followed by speeches from competing veterans who discussed their injuries and what it took to overcome them.

Britain's Prince Harry, left, and first lady Michelle Obama listen to speakers during the opening ceremony for the Invictus Games, Sunday, May 8, 2016, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Britain’s Prince Harry, left, and first lady Michelle Obama listen to speakers during the opening ceremony for the Invictus Games, Sunday, May 8, 2016, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The prince also discussed his time of service, saying: “I served along 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 team work and camaraderie in the way that only military service can teach you.”

Prince Harry assured spectators and fans that the veterans faced “not just physical injuries,” but “every single one of them has confronted tremendous emotional and mental challenges.”

 

Very excited that @InvictusOrlando starts today! Are you ready? Think these competitors are… pic.twitter.com/pdpQvakSJd

— Invictus Games (@WeAreInvictus) May 9, 2016