Obama Thanks Military Families With Independence Day Bash
(July 6, 2009)
President Barack Obama greets military families on the South Lawn during an Independence Day celebration at the White House in Washington, D.C., July 4, 2009.
WASHINGTON, July 5, 2009 – As Americans
celebrated Independence Day in homes throughout the nation,
President Barack Obama invited about 1,200 military families
to his home for a July Fourth bash yesterday to personally
thank them for their service and sacrifice.
“Michelle and I are honored and proud to have you here on
the Fourth,” said Obama, addressing the audience from a
balcony overlooking the White House's South Lawn, which had
been transformed into a sea of red, white and blue for the
“It is, after all, your service -- the service of
generations of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast
Guardsmen -- that makes our annual celebration of this day
possible,” he said.
The commander in chief called
today's men and women in uniform the “latest, strongest
link” in a chain that can be traced to the Continental Army.
“You're the heirs of that legacy of proud men and women who
strained to hold together a young union; who rolled back the
creeping tide of tyranny; who stood post through a long
twilight struggle; who have taken on the terror and
extremism that threatens the world's stability,” he said.
The nation's defenders are making headway in that battle,
Obama said, noting recent events in Iraq.
“... Because of your brave efforts, American troops this week
transferred control of all Iraqi cities and towns in Iraq's
government to Iraqi security forces,” he said. “Because of
what you did -- because of the courage and capability and
commitment of every single American who has served in Iraq
-- a sovereign and united Iraq is taking control of its own
Iraq's future rests in the hands of the Iraqis now, the
president said. “As extraordinary an accomplishment as that
is, we know that this transition won't be without problems,”
he acknowledged. “We know there will be difficult days
ahead. And that's why we will remain a strong partner to the
Iraqi people on behalf of their security and prosperity.”
Obama was joined at the podium by 22 servicemembers,
handpicked by each military branch for their heroism and
sacrifice. Among them were Army Reserve Sgt. Gregory Ruske
and Army Reserve Spc. David Hutchinson, both Silver Star
medal recipients singled out for extraordinary heroism in
Afghanistan last year.
“... We're humbled to be joined up here by heroes -- men and
women who went beyond the call of duty in battle, some
selflessly risking their lives again and again so that
others might live,” the president said.
“True to form, they -- like all of you -- say they were just
doing their job,” he continued. “That's what makes you the
best of us, and that's why we simply want to say thank you
to each and every one of you for your extraordinary service
to our country.”
After his remarks, the president and first lady walked onto
the lawn to personally greet – and thank -- their military
Air Force Capt. Ed Yonce, assigned to Dover Air Force Base,
Del., and his wife Wendy were among the lucky few who scored
a handshake with the president and first lady.
“It's an honor to serve our country and an honor to be
here,” Yonce said.
“This has been so exciting,” said Wendy, who made sure her
four children had an unobstructed view of the famous couple.
Marine Corps Cpl. Jonathon Fortune attended the festivities
with his wife Kyrie and 11-month-old son Carson. Fortune is
a wounded warrior from Bethesda, Md.
“It's been great to meet new people and, of course, be at
the White House,” Fortune said. “I was pretty excited to be
The event included a barbecue, with food supplied by the USO,
and entertainment by the U.S. Marine Corps Band, Foo
Fighters, Michelle Branch and Jimmy Fallon. The Independence
Day bash culminated with a prime view of the fireworks set
off over the Washington Monument.
Article by Elaine Sanchez
DoD photo by Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service
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