Entries in Arlington National Cemetery (4)


President Obama, Vice President Biden Sworn in for Second Term 

Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday officially embarked on their second term, taking the Constitutionally-mandated oath of office in two separate private ceremonies inside their Washington, D.C., homes.

Shortly before noon in the Blue Room of the White House, Obama raised his right hand, with his left on a family Bible, reciting the oath administrated by Chief Justice John Roberts. He was surrounded by immediate family members, including First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters, Malia and Sasha.

Biden was sworn in earlier Sunday by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic to administer a presidential oath, in a ceremony at his official residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory. He was joined by more than 120 guests, including cabinet members, extended family and wife, Dr. Jill Biden.

Because Jan. 20 – the official date for a new presidential term – falls on a Sunday this year, organizers delayed by one day the traditional public inauguration ceremony and parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Obama and Biden will each repeat the oath again on Monday on the west front of the U.S. Capitol surrounded by hundreds of dignitaries and members of Congress. An estimated 800,000 people are expected to gather on the National Mall to witness the moment and inaugural parade to follow.

Sunday's official inaugural activities also included moments of prayer and remembrance that marked the solemnity of the day.

Obama and Biden rendezvoused at Arlington National Cemetery for a brief morning ceremony to place a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns, honoring military service members who served and sacrificed. Both men stood shoulder to shoulder, bowing their heads as a bugler played "Taps."

Biden, who is Catholic, began the day with a private family mass at his residence. The President and First Family attended church services at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historically black church and site of two pre-inaugural prayer services for former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore and their families.

The Obamas and Bidens will participate in a church service on Monday morning at St. John's Episcopal, across Lafayette Park from the White House. They will also attend a National Prayer Service on Tuesday at the National Cathedral.

Later on Sunday evening, the newly-inaugurated leaders will attend a candlelight reception at the National Building Museum. The president and vice president are expected to deliver brief remarks to their supporters.

The official inaugural weekend festivities began Saturday in Washington with a National Day of Service led by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The Obamas joined volunteers at a local D.C. elementary school, where they helped with renovation projects.

Organizers said thousands of Americans participated in service events in conjunction with the inauguration across all 50 states. More than 13,000 people attended a so-called Service Summit on the National Mall.

Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden on Saturday also hosted a Kids Inaugural ball, a tradition started in 2009. The event was geared toward children of military families as part of Obama's "Joining Forces" initiative. A concert included performances by Usher, the cast of "Glee," and Katy Perry.

The stars will be out in force across Washington again on Monday, with performances at the inaugural cermony at the Capitol and at the official inaugural balls later in the evening.

At the ceremony, Beyoncé will sing the National Anthem, Kelly Clarkson will perform "My Country Tis of Thee," and James Taylor will sing "America the Beautiful." The balls will include performances by Marc Anthony, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Stevie Wonder, and Smokey Robinson. Officials have not yet revealed who will perform for the president and first lady's inaugural dance.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


President Obama Marks Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery

Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- Honoring the nation’s military “heroes over the generations, who have served this country of ours with distinction,” President Barack Obama today participated in Veterans Day ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery.

After laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, the president spoke on the grounds’ memorial amphitheater to tell assembled military and their families that Nov. 11 would forever belong to them and, “every service member who has ever worn our nation’s uniform.”

“On behalf of the American people, I say to you that the memory of your loved one carries on not just in your hearts, but in ours as well.  And I assure you that their sacrifice will never be forgotten,” he said. “For it is in that sacrifice that we see the enduring spirit of America.  Since even before our founding, we have been blessed with an unbroken chain of patriots who have always come forward to serve.”

The president recounted remarks he made to commemorate the holiday three years ago, when he spoke of the 9-11 generation of service members. These troops, who had come up in the shadow of the War on Terror, had “toppled a dictator and battled an insurgency in Iraq,” he said.

“You pushed back the Taliban and decimated al Qaeda in Afghanistan.”

Obama was met with applause when he noted this was the first Veterans Day without an Iraq War.

“Over the next few years, more than a million service members will transition back to civilian life,” he said. “They’ll take off their uniforms and take on a new and lasting role.  They will be veterans. As they come home, it falls to us, their fellow citizens, to be there for them and their families.”

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki – himself a Vietnam vet — introduced the president at the ceremony. Obama praised his department for continuing care for veterans and their families long after wars were over, noting that the US still cares for the child of a Civil War veteran even today, as well as over a hundred spouses and children of men who served in the Spanish-American War.

The president also highlighted the work of first lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, who have focused programs on military families during their stay in the White House. The women and Vice President Joe Biden were in attendance.

“That’s what we do in America.  We take care of our own,” he said. ”We take care of our veterans.  We take care of your families.  Not just by saluting you on one day, once a year, but by fighting for you and your families every day of every year.”

It was an obligation gladly accepted for veterans like Petty Officer Taylor Morris, who lost all four limbs in Afghanistan to an IED while serving as an explosive ordinance disposal technician. In his closing remarks, Obama recounted a viral video of Morris once again dancing with his girlfriend after recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and later awarding him a Purple Heart as he stood in the White House.

After his remarks, the president and his wife were joined by the vice president and Dr. Biden as they stopped at the cemetery’s “Section 60,” an area dedicated to service members killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Walking among the tombstones, they were quietly greeted by dozens of families that had gathered in the vicinity to reflect and give respects to loved ones.

The Obama administration has reported progress in reforming problems plaguing American service members, including unemployment and homelessness. But the slow-trudging success has at times become a double edged sword.

For example, as reported by the Washington Post, the administration has made it easier for veterans to file claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs, but the backlog of pending disability claims has more than doubled since Obama took office in 2009.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama on Memorial Day Recalls the Fallen, Winding Down of Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- Under bright, hazy skies at Arlington National Cemetery, President Obama spent his fourth Memorial Day as commander in chief honoring the hundreds of thousands of  soldiers who died serving their country, particularly in the Vietnam War, which began more than 50 years ago.

“From the jungles of Vietnam to the mountains of Afghanistan, they stepped forward and answered the call,” Obama told hundreds gathered in the humid, midday heat at the cemetery, which is across the Potomac River from the capital.

 “They fought for a home they might never return to; they fought for buddies they’ll never forget. While their stories may be separated by hundreds of years and thousands of miles, they rest here, together. Side by side, row by row.  Because each of them loved this country and everything it stands for more than life itself.”

Heeding to custom, Obama also laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, pausing to reflect and pray as a lone bugler played taps.

Obama took pains to point out that “for the first time in nine years Americans are not fighting and dying in Iraq.”

That declaration drew applause, as did his pronouncement that “we are winding down the war in Afghanistan and our troops will continue to come home.

“After a decade under the dark cloud of war, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon,” Obama said, pointing out that the nation needs to remember not only the fallen but their families too.

“As a country, all of us can and should ask ourselves how we can help you shoulder a burden that nobody should have to bear alone,” he said.

“Sending our troops into harm’s way is the most wrenching decision that I have to make,” Obama said. “I can promise you that I will never do so unless absolutely necessary, and that when we do we must give our troops a clear mission and full support of a grateful nation.”

The White House announced last week that the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the National Park Service and the Department of Defense had launched a 13-year program to “to honor and give thanks to a generation of proud Americans who saw our country through one of the most challenging missions we have ever faced.”

It was 50 years ago in January that the U.S. began to provide helicopter support to the South Vietnamese. That action grew into a 13-year conflict that took more than 58,000 American lives.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will visit the Vietnam War Memorial later today to pay further tribute.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


President Obama to Honor Fallen at Vietnam Memorial

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As commander in chief, President Obama says he has no more solemn responsibility than acknowledging the loss of Americans in combat. His Memorial Day began with a private breakfast at the White House with “Gold Star” families who have lost loved ones. After the traditional wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery, President Obama attends a special remembrance at the Vietnam Memorial – marking 50 years since the start of that conflict.

President Obama is the first president for whom Vietnam is history, not memory.  He is speaking at the iconic Vietnam Memorial wall,   black granite etched with the names of more than 58,000 Americans who lost their lives in the conflict.

In an opinion column published Monday in the military’s Stars and Stripes, the President reminds the nation that it was in January 50 years ago the first U.S. Army helicopters helped to ferry South Vietnamese troops out into the jungle near Saigon, ushering the U.S. into long years of combat in  Southeast Asia.  The President declares in Stars and Stripes that the U.S. will never stop searching for the 1,666 Americans still missing.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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