Saturday, July 03, 2010

First Family Welcomes Military Service Members & Families For July 4 White House Barbecue

Malia Obama celebrates birthday; The Killers Headline Special USO Concert
Update: A full post about the event is here; videos are here; First Lady's July 4 message is here
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama and their families will celebrate Independence Day at the White House by welcoming service men and women and their families to a very special barbecue and USO concert on the South Lawn. It's a double celebration for the First Family: Daughter Malia turns twelve on July 4th, too. (Above: An iconic Pete Souza photo of the President and First Lady, from last year's celebration)

According to a White House source, 1,200 troops and their families, representing all five branches of the military, are expected to attend the celebration. The guests will include wounded warriors, recently deployed troops, families of those currently deployed, families of the fallen, and those receiving special recognition, such as Silver Star and Purple Heart.

The barbecue will begin in the late afternoon, and the President will make remarks at 7:00 PM EDT. These will be livestreamed.

“The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band will play, followed by a concert that will also be livestreamed beginning at 8:00 PM EDT. The USO is overseeing the sixty-minute program, titled "Salute To The Military." Las Vegas-based rock band The Killers will headline, following an acoustic set by Seattle's Brandi Carlile; Cedric The Entertainer kicks it all off. (Above: The President and one of his youngest guests, during last year's celebration)

The Killers are technically on hiatus right now, but they have re-gathered just to play at the White House.

"It is a monumental honor for us to be a part of this 4th of July celebration at the White House," lead singer Brandon Flowers said in a statement issued to media. "We could never repay the service men and women of this country for their contributions and sacrifice. To perform for them and their families on America’s birthday will be our pleasure. We’d also like to thank the USO for inviting us to be part of this awesome event.” (The Killers, above; Flowers is at far left)

The Foo Fighters had the honor of entertaining the troops and their families last year.

Fireworks livestreamed, too: At the end of the concert, it'll be time for the national capitol fireworks display, which occurs over the National Mall, and can be viewed by The President and First Lady's guests from the South Lawn. Obama administration staff and their families have also been invited to attend the concert and fireworks. These will be livestreamed starting at 9:10 PM EDT.

Happy Birthday Malia: On Independence Day 2009, Malia's birthday was the very first Obama birthday to actually be celebrated at the White House. The First Lady's January 17, 2009 birthday came right before the Inauguration, and daughter Sasha's birthday, on June 10, 2009, was celebrated in London.

"I should say that there's also one girl in particular who's just thrilled that all of you are here--and that is Malia Obama, because this happens to be her birthday, as well," President Obama told his Independence Day guests last year, drawing applause. "When she was younger, I used to say that all these fireworks were for her. I'm not sure she still buys that."

Special Independence Day visit to Iraq by Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden
The White House announced mid-morning on July 3 that Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden had arrived in Iraq, after they were in country. It's apparently the first time that a US official has been accompanied by a spouse to the war zone. (Above: The Bidens step off a military aircraft as they arrive in Iraq, and are greeted by US Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill)

Dr. Biden and Mrs. Obama have spent much time in the last eighteen months supporting troops and their families, and the Bidens are a Blue Star family, with their eldest son Beau, 41, now Delaware Attorney General, a captain in the Delaware Army National Guard and an Iraq war veteran.

The White House advisory on the Bidens' visit to Iraq:

Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden have arrived in Iraq to celebrate the Fourth of July with U.S. troops. During this visit, the Vice President will meet with Iraqi political leaders to reaffirm the U.S. long-term commitment to Iraq and to discuss recent developments. The Vice President will meet with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, leader of Iraqiyya Ayad Allawi, and other political leaders. He will also meet with the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative for Iraq Ad Melkert. The Vice President and Dr. Biden will attend a naturalization ceremony for members of the United States Armed Forces and the Vice President will participate in a Fourth of July event for Iraqi officials hosted by Ambassador Hill.

Dr. Biden will attend a number of Independence Day activities and visit with National Guard soldiers preparing to redeploy to the United States for a discussion about reintegration and the challenges faced by military families during the deployment cycle. Also during this visit, Dr. Biden will meet with civilian embassy personnel and participate in a teacher training roundtable event with Iraqi women who teach English in the greater Baghdad area. This is Dr. Biden’s first visit to Iraq.

Photos: Top two from Fourth of July 2009, by Pete Souza/White House; Bidens in Iraq via Reuters; The Killers courtesy of.