Full Text Political Transcripts November 29, 2016: First Lady Michelle Obama at the Annual Holiday Press Preview

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the First Lady at Annual Holiday Press Preview

Source: WH, 11-29-16

This year’s theme: The gift of service and sacrifice

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East Room

1:35 P.M. EST

MRS. OBAMA:  Hi, everybody!  Look how good you guys look.  You ready for some action?

AUDIENCE:  Yes.

MRS. OBAMA:  Are you sure?  I don’t know, you sound like you don’t want cookies or anything like that.  (Laughter.)  You think you want some cookies?  You think so?  Okay, well, we’re going to get to it, but first I want to welcome everyone to the White House.

I want to start by thanking Hazel for that wonderful introduction and for all of her service and hard work in helping to make this home so beautiful.  I want to give a huge thank you to all of the volunteers, as Hazel mentioned, who traveled here from 33 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico to come here and put up these beautiful decorations and transform this White House into this holiday wonderland.  So I’m so grateful to you all.

And as we celebrate my family’s last holiday season in the White House, I’m thinking back to when we first came here to Washington and we promised to open up this house to as many people from as many backgrounds as possible.  And we truly wanted to make the White House the “People’s House,” particularly during the holiday seasons.  And over the past eight years, through the seasons, we’ve worked hard to achieve that goal by welcoming almost a half million guests to this house during the season.  And thanks to our amazing volunteers, we’ve adorned the White House with about a half million ornaments for our guests to enjoy, and we’ve brought smiles to the faces of all those who enjoyed the 200,000 holiday cookies prepared by our outstanding pastry chefs.  And you all will get to have some more of those today.  That will make 200,020 or so.

So, looking back, I am proud to say that we did our very best during the holidays to make Americans of all backgrounds and walks of life feel comfortable and welcome here in our nation’s house.  Now, we do all of this with the help of our extraordinary staff.  I mean, yes, we have wonderful volunteers, but we have folks who, each year, take a very limited budget and very little resources, and they make miracles happen in this house.

So, for our final holiday preview, I just want to take a moment to highlight just a few of the amazing folks who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes.  And I don’t know if they know I’m calling them out — I don’t even know if they’re in the room.  But I want to start with Deesha Dyer, who is the office — our Social Secretary.

MS. DYER:  I’m here.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Deesha, there you are.  There’s Deesha.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Deesha.  And you’re going to see Cris Comerford and Susie Morrison.  Cris is our Executive Chef and Susie is our Executive Pastry Chef.  I want to thank them both, as well as all of the chefs, all of the staff in the kitchen who worked so hard to do everything possible to make these holidays terrific.

I want to thank all of our ushers who never get credit.  I know they’re around here working away, but they’re the people who greet you, and they make sure that things are moving like they should in this house — our florists, who are tremendous.  And I rarely get to thank our electricians, our carpenters, because they make sure that chandeliers are moved and structures are built so that we can put things on, and they do this in a matter of days.  They turn this house upside down.  And to our calligraphers — you’ll see all their handiwork throughout the ornaments.  And I also always want to thank our incredible Marine Band, who you hear from throughout the season.  My husband’s favorite musical crew are his own Marine Band.

This is all possible because of all of these people.  And on behalf of the entire Obama family — me, Barack, Malia, Sasha, Grandma, Bo and Sunny — (laughter) — we are so proud of this team here, so proud of the time that we spent with you.  We’re grateful for everything you’ve done for us over the years.  So let’s give them a round of applause.  (Applause.)

So before I get choked up, let me officially kick off our final White House holiday season.  And as always, today, we are celebrating with our extraordinary military community, our military families.  We have our servicemembers.  We have veterans here today.  We have wounded warriors.  We have our military spouses!  (Applause.)  You go, spouses.  And of course, we have our outstanding, handsome, beautiful, smart, talented, engaging military kids.  Are there any here?  Oh here they are.  (Laughter.)  Let’s give them all a round of applause.  (Applause.)

For the past eight years, celebrating the holidays and having you all be the first that see the decorations, this has been one of our favorite White House traditions.  It reminds us that between all the shopping lists and the travel plans and all those big meals, that we cannot forget what the holidays are really about, and you all help us.  Our military families like all of you remind us of what matters.  Because even as you serve this country in uniform, or you hold everything together here at home as a military spouse, or you prepare to attend another new school as a military kid —

(A baby in the audience interrupts.)

MRS. OBAMA:  — and there’s that one back there talking about I don’t know what, but there’s a little one back there who has a lot to say.  (Laughter.)  But you all still find time to contribute even more to your communities and to this country.

You do it all.  You volunteer at local food banks.  You coach your kids’ sports teams on the weekends.  Many of you have even cut your Thanksgiving holiday short to come here and decorate the White House.

Just another example — we have Hazel up here — but one of our volunteers, her name is Jacqueline James.  She’s from Redlands, California.  Is Jacqueline here so we can really embarrass her?  She’s probably still working.  We’re going to do another reception for our volunteers later.  But let me tell you a little bit about Jacqueline.

During her husband’s 22 years in the Army, her family — she and her family, they spent the holidays in five different states and even on a base overseas.  During that time they managed to raise seven kids.  And just two weeks ago, they celebrated the birth of their fifteenth grandchild.  But their family’s service to this country did not end when Jacqueline’s husband retired, as they watched two of their sons do tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  And even though Jacqueline doesn’t consider herself the most artistic decorator, she volunteered at the White House this year because — and this is what she said — she said, “If patriotism is an art,” she said, “then I am a master.”

It’s that kind of commitment to serving others, that’s what the holidays are truly about and that’s what we honor with our holiday decorations every year at the White House.  And this year’s holiday theme is “The Gift of the Holidays.”  And as usual, we’re going to be celebrating our country’s greatest gifts with special decorations celebrating our military families.

Down in the Booksellers, when you walk in, the visitors that come will see a tree and a flag display composed of pictures of military families who my husband and I have met on bases and in communities around the world over the course of our time here.  The tree is hung with gold ornaments honoring America’s greatest heroes, the men and women who have given their lives for our country.  And right next to those displays is an iPad station that allows guests to send holiday wishes to our servicemembers, and we are hoping that each of the 68,000 guests that are going to visit during the holiday season will take a moment to pause and send a message to express their gratitude.

After that, they’ll move on to see a number of other decorations that celebrate the gifts we share as a nation.  For example, in the Library, we’re honoring the gift of a great education — which is important, right, school, college, all of that.  And we have trees in the Library made out of crayons and pencils, so you have to check that out if you haven’t already.  And to raise awareness about the millions of adolescent girls around the world who are not able to attend school, we’ve got two trees that are decorated with special ornaments, each of which has the word “girl” written in one of a dozen different languages.

So when guests head upstairs to this floor, they’re going to see that, in the Green Room, it’s filled with decorations representing the gifts provided by our White House Kitchen Garden with trees hung with ornaments in the shape of bees and fruit.  And of course, right next door, we have our 19-foot-tall White House Christmas tree.  It’s really big.  They have to take out the chandeliers and rearrange everything just to get the tree in the house.  And that’s in our Blue Room.  And in the State Dining Room, you’re going to spot the official White House gingerbread house.  So when you see it, guys, it’s made of all — everything on it is something you can eat.  And our pastry chefs have worked very hard to make this house possible.  It is beautiful.  They’ve got the replica of the new White House garden, and Bo and Sunny, and lots of cool stuff.

Now, the trees in that room — there are 56 LEGO gingerbread houses representing every state and territory in America.  And then somewhere around the house, we have supersize replicas of Bo and Sunny guarding their presents, because we don’t let them have their presents.  (Laughter.)  I’m just kidding, they get presents.  They’re fine.

Altogether, the folks who come through these halls over the next few weeks will see about — how many ornaments do you think are in this house?

CHILD:  Six.

MRS. OBAMA:  Six?  (Laughter.)  Ten?

CHILD:  A hundred.

MRS. OBAMA:  A hundred?  Getting closer.

CHILD:  Nine thousand.

MRS. OBAMA:  Nine thousand?

CHILD:  Two hundred.

MRS. OBAMA:  Let me tell you, it’s 70,000 ornaments.  I was pretty shocked at that.

So we can’t wait — that’s a lot of ornaments.  But we can’t wait to start welcoming people into their White House this holiday season.  And to everyone who created these stunning displays, all our volunteers, all our — all the folks who help make this happen, I want to once again say thank you.  You all did a phenomenal job once again in turning this house into a magical place.

And to all the military families, those of you who are here today and all those around the world, I want to once again honor you for your service and your sacrifice and your love of this nation.  It’s a lot that my family and I share along with you.  It has been such a complete pleasure to support you in this time.

So I want to wish everyone a happy, healthy holiday season, all right?  And with that, we get to have some fun, okay?  Are you guys ready — I’m just talking to the kids here.  (Laughter.)  You guys don’t get to have fun, but here’s what you get:  We will take your children from you for a moment.  (Laughter and applause.)  Don’t applaud too loudly.  They’re still here.  They can hear you.  (Laughter.)  And you can enjoy some cider and some cookies.

And you guys want to come with me?  We’ve got some surprises in the back, and your parents will be here.  We’ll try to bring them back in one piece.  I can’t guarantee that they will be neat.  (Laughter.)  There is dye and food color — sorry.  (Laughter.)  All of it is washable!

All right, you guys ready to come and join me?  You all, thank you all so much.  Come to the White House.  It’s really cool.  Take care.

END
1:47 P.M. EST

Politics November 25, 2016: First Lady Michelle Obama welcomes last Christmas tree of administration

HEADLINE NEWS

Headline_News

POLITICS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 25: U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, accompanied by her nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson and her dogs Bo and Sunny, receives the official White House Christmas tree at the North Portico of the White House November 25, 2016 in Washington, DC. The tree, a 19 feet tall Balsam fir, arrived at the White House on Friday and will be on display in the Blue Room during the holiday season. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 25: U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, accompanied by her nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson and her dogs Bo and Sunny, receives the official White House Christmas tree at the North Portico of the White House November 25, 2016 in Washington, DC. The tree, a 19 feet tall Balsam fir, arrived at the White House on Friday and will be on display in the Blue Room during the holiday season. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It is Christmastime at the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama received the day after Thanks giving Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, the last Christmas tree she will decorate at the White House of her husband President Barack Obama’s administration. Unlike the last seven years, Mrs. Obama was not joined by her daughters Malia and Sasha, who also skipped this year’s pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey on Wednesday, Nov. 23. Instead, the Obamas are being joined this holiday season by their youngest nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson. Along with her nephews the Obamas dogs, Bo and Sunny tagged along.

This year’s winning White House Christmas tree is “a 19-foot Balsam-Veitch fir cross. The tree’s growers are Dave and Mary Vander Velden of the Whispering Pines Tree Farm in Oconto, Wisconsin the winners of this year’s National Christmas Tree Association contest. The Association has picked the tree since 1966.

CNN reported that the Vander Veldens’s tree did not grow as large as the official tree needs to be and will be placed somewhere else within the White House decorations, and instead a tree donated from a Pennsylvania farm will be used as the official tree adorning the Blue Room of the White House. The Vander Veldens presented the tree to the First Lady at the White House’s north portico after it arrived in the traditional horse-drawn carriage. The carriage had jingle bells, while “a four-piece military band played “O Christmas Tree.”

When Mrs. Obama received the tree, she asked her nephews, “What do you think?” and then joked about her holiday substitutes, “These are our replacement kids. This is what happens when you get teenagers. One is asleep – these two are up.” The First Lady enthusiastically concluded, “Christmas begins. The holiday starts! We’re ready – our last one. We’re excited about it.”

As the First Lady looked over the tree, she said, “This is the easiest part of the holiday season.” For the entire weekend the White House staff will be decorating the executive mansion for the holidays, on Tuesday, Nov. 29 Michelle presents the finished product to the press and public. Then Thursday, Dec. 1, the Obama’s will light the National Christmas Tree in the Ellipse.

Full Text Political Transcripts November 22, 2016: President Barack Obama’s remarks at his final presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Source: WH, 11-22-16

East Room

3:13 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, hello, hello!  Hey!  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  Everybody, please have a seat.  We’ve got some work to do here.  (Laughter.)  This is not all fun and games.

Welcome to the White House, everybody.  Today, we celebrate extraordinary Americans who have lifted our spirits, strengthened our union, pushed us toward progress.

I always love doing this event, but this is a particularly impressive class.  We’ve got innovators and artists.  Public servants, rabble rousers, athletes, renowned character actors — like the guy from Space Jam.  (Laughter.)  We pay tribute to those distinguished individuals with our nation’s highest civilian honor — the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about each of them.

First, we came close to missing out on Bill and Melinda Gates’ incredible partnership.  Because apparently Bill’s opening line was, “Do you want to go out two weeks from this coming Saturday?”  (Laughter.)  He’s good with computers, but — (laughter.)

Fortunately, Melinda believes in second chances.  And the world is better for it.  For two decades, the Gates Foundation has worked to provide lifesaving medical care to millions — boosting clean water supplies, improving education for our children, rallying aggressive international action on climate change, cutting childhood mortality in half.  The list could go on.

These two have donated more money to charitable causes than anyone, ever.  Many years ago, Melinda’s mom told her an old saying: “To know that even one life has breathed easier because you lived — that is success.”  By this and just about any other measure, few in human history have been more successful than these two impatient optimists.

Frank Gehry has never let popular acclaim reverse his impulse to defy convention.  “I was an outsider from the beginning,” he says, “so for better or worse, I thrived on it.”  The child of poor Jewish immigrants, Frank grew up in Los Angeles, and throughout his life he embraced the spirit of a city defined by an open horizon.  He’s spent his life rethinking shapes and mediums, seemingly the force of gravity itself; the idea of what architecture could be he decided to upend — constantly repurposing every material available, from titanium to a paper towel tube.  He’s inspiring our next generation through his advocacy for arts education in our schools.  From the Guggenheim, to Bilbao, to Chicago’s Millennium Park — our hometown — to his home in Santa Monica, which I understand caused some consternation among his neighbors — (laughter) — Frank’s work teaches us that while buildings may be sturdy and fixed to the ground, like all great art, they can lift our spirits.  They can soar and broaden our horizons.

When an undergraduate from rural Appalachia first set foot on the National Mall many years ago, she was trying to figure out a way to show that “war is not just a victory or a loss,” but “about individual lives.”  She considered how the landscape might shape that message, rather than the other way around.  The project that Maya Lin designed for her college class earned her a B+ — (laughter) — and a permanent place in American history.  (Laughter.)  So all of you B+ students out there.  (Laughter.)

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial has changed the way we think about monuments, but also about how we think about sacrifice, and patriotism, and ourselves.  Maya has given us more than just places for remembering — she has created places for us to make new memories.  Her sculptures, chapels, and homes are “physical act[s] of poetry,” each reminding us that the most important element in art or architecture is human emotion.

Three minutes before Armstrong and Aldrin touched down on the moon, Apollo 11’s lunar lander alarms triggered — red and yellow lights across the board.  Our astronauts didn’t have much time.  But thankfully, they had Margaret Hamilton.  A young MIT scientist — and a working mom in the ‘60s — Margaret led the team that created the onboard flight software that allowed the Eagle to land safely.  And keep in mind that, at this time, software engineering wasn’t even a field yet.  There were no textbooks to follow, so, as Margaret says, “There was no choice but to be pioneers.”

Luckily for us, Margaret never stopped pioneering.  And she symbolizes the generation of unsung women who helped send humankind into space.  Her software architecture echoes in countless technologies today.  And her example speaks of the American spirit of discovery that exists in every little girl and little boy who know that somehow, to look beyond the heavens is to look deep within ourselves — and to figure out just what is possible.

If Wright is flight and Edison is light, then Hopper is code.  Born in 1906, Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper followed her mother into mathematics, earned her PhD from Yale, and set out on a long and storied career.  At age 37, and a full 15 pounds below military guidelines, the gutsy and colorful Grace joined the Navy and was sent to work on one of the first computers, Harvard’s “Mark One.”

She saw beyond the boundaries of the possible, and invented the first compiler, which allowed programs to be written in regular language and then translated for computers to understand.  While the women who pioneered software were often overlooked, the most prestigious award for young computer scientists now bear her name.  From cell phones to cyber command, we can thank Grace Hopper for opening programming to millions more people, helping to usher in the information age and profoundly shaping our digital world.

Speaking of really smart people — (laughter) — in the summer of 1950, a young University of Chicago physicist found himself at Los Alamos National Laboratory.  Dick Garwin was there, he said, because Chicago paid its faculty for nine months but his family ate for 12.  So by the next summer, Dick had helped create the hydrogen bomb.  And for the rest of his life, he dedicated himself to reducing the threat of nuclear war.  Dick’s not only an architect of the atomic age.  Ever since he was a Cleveland kid tinkering with his father’s movie projectors, he’s never met a problem he didn’t want to solve.  Reconnaissance satellites, the MRI, GPS technology, the touchscreen all bear his fingerprints.  He even patented a “mussel washer” for shellfish — which I haven’t used.  The other stuff I have.  (Laughter.)  Where is he?

Dick has advised nearly every President since Eisenhower — often rather bluntly.  Enrico Fermi — also a pretty smart guy himself — is said to have called Dick “the only true genius” he ever met.  I do want to see this mussel washer.  (Laughter.)

Along with these scientists, artists, and thinkers, we also honor those who have shaped our culture from the stage and the screen.

In her long and extraordinary career, Cicely Tyson has not only succeeded as an actor, she has shaped the whole course history.  Cicely was never the likeliest of Hollywood stars.  The daughter of immigrants from the West Indies, she was raised by a hardworking and religious mother who cleaned houses and forbade her children to attend the movies.  But once she got her education and broke into the business, Cicely made a conscious decision not just to say lines, but to speak out.  “I would not accept roles,” she said, “unless they projected us, particularly women, in a realistic light, [and] dealt with us as human beings.”  And from “Sounder,” to “The Trip to Bountiful,” to “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” Cicely’s convictions and grace have helped for us see the dignity of every single beautiful member of the American family.  And she’s just gorgeous.  (Laughter and applause.)  Yes, she is.

In 1973, a critic wrote of Robert De Niro, “This kid doesn’t just act — he takes off into the vapors.”  And it was true, his characters are iconic.  A Sicilian father turned New York mobster.  A mobster who runs a casino.  A mobster who needs therapy.  (Laughter.)  A father-in-law who is scarier than a mobster.  (Laughter.)  Al Capone — a mobster.  (Laughter.)

Robert combines dramatic precision and, it turns out, comedic timing with his signature eye for detail.  And while the name De Niro is synonymous with “tough guy,” his true gift is the sensitivity that he brings to each role.  This son of New York artists didn’t stop at becoming one of the world’s greatest actors.  He’s also a director, a philanthropist, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival.  Of his tireless preparation — from learning the saxophone to remaking his body — he once said, “I feel I have to earn the right to play a part.”  And the result is honest and authentic art that reveals who we really are.

In 1976, Lorne Michaels implored the Beatles to reunite on his brand new show.  In exchange, he offered them $3,000.  (Laughter.)  And then he told them they could share it equally, or they could give Ringo a smaller cut.  (Laughter.)  Which was early proof that Lorne Michaels has a good sense of humor.

On Saturday Night Live, he’s created a world where a band of no-names become comedy’s biggest stars.  Where our friends the Coneheads, and cheerleaders, and land sharks, and basement deadbeats, and motivational speakers, and an unfrozen caveman lawyer show up, and Tom Hanks is on “Black Jeopardy.”  (Laughter.)  After four decades, even in this fractured media culture that we’ve got, SNL remains appointment viewing; a mainline into not just our counterculture but our culture; still a challenge to the powerful, especially folks like me.

And yet even after all these years, Lorne jokes that his tombstone should bear just a single word that’s often found in the show’s reviews — “uneven.”  (Laughter.)  As a current U.S. Senator would say:  Doggone it, Lorne – that’s why people like you.  He produced a Senator, too, that’s pretty impressive.

Ellen DeGeneres has a way of making you laugh about something rather than at someone.  Except when I danced on her show — she laughed at me.  (Laughter.)  But that’s okay.

It’s easy to forget now, when we’ve come so far, where now marriage is equal under the law — just how much courage was required for Ellen to come out on the most public of stages almost 20 years ago.  Just how important it was not just to the LGBT community, but for all of us to see somebody so full of kindness and light, somebody we liked so much, somebody who could be our neighbor or our colleague or our sister challenge our own assumptions, remind us that we have more in common than we realize, push our country in the direction of justice.

What an incredible burden that was to bear.  To risk your career like that.  People don’t do that very often.  And then to have the hopes of millions on your shoulders.  But it’s like Ellen says:  We all want a tortilla chip that can support the weight of guacamole.  Which really makes no sense to me, but I thought would brighten the mood, because I was getting kind of choked up.  (Laughter.)  And she did pay a price — we don’t remember this.  I hadn’t remembered it.  She did, for a pretty long stretch of time — even in Hollywood.

And yet, today, every day, in every way, Ellen counters what too often divides us with the countless things that bind us together — inspires us to be better, one joke, one dance at a time.

When The Candidate wins his race in the iconic 1972 film of the same name, which continues, by the way, for those of you who haven’t seen it, and many of you are too young — perhaps the best movie about what politics is actually like, ever.  He famously asks his campaign manager the reflective and revealing question:  “What do we do now?”  And like the man he played in that movie, Robert Redford has figured it out and applied his talent and charm to achieve success.

We admire Bob not just for his remarkable acting, but for having figured out what to do next.  He created a platform for independent filmmakers with the Sundance Institute.  He has supported our National Parks and our natural resources as one of the foremost conservationists of our generation.  He’s given his unmatched charisma to unforgettable characters like Roy Hobbs, Nathan Muir, and of course the Sundance Kid, entertaining us for more than half a century.  As an actor, director, producer, and as an advocate, he has not stopped — and apparently drives so fast that he had breakfast in Napa and dinner in Salt Lake.  (Laughter.)  At 80 years young, Robert Redford has no plans to slow down.

According to a recent headline, the movie, Sully was the last straw.  We should never travel with Tom Hanks.  (Laughter.)  I mean, you think about, you got pirates, plane crashes, you get marooned in airport purgatory, volcanoes — something happens with Tom Hanks.  (Laughter.)  And yet somehow, we can’t resist going where he wants to take us.  He’s been an accidental witness to history, a crusty women’s baseball manager, an everyman who fell in love with Meg Ryan three times.  (Laughter.)  Made it seem natural to have a volleyball as your best friend.  From a Philadelphia courtroom, to Normandy’s beachheads, to the dark side of the moon, he has introduced us to America’s unassuming heroes.

Tom says he just saw “ordinary guys who did the right thing at the right time.”  Well, it takes one to know one, and “America’s Dad” has stood up to cancer with his beloved wife, Rita.  He has championed our veterans, supported space exploration, and the truth is, Tom has always saved his best roles for real life.  He is a good man — which is the best title you can have.

So we got innovators, entertainers — three more folks who’ve dedicated themselves to public service.

In the early 1960s, thousands of Cuban children fled to America, seeking an education they’d never get back home.  And one refugee was 15-year-old named Eduardo Padron, whose life changed when he enrolled at Miami Dade College.  That decision led to a bachelor’s degree, then a Master’s degree, then a PhD, and then he had a choice — he could go into corporate America, or he could give back to his alma mater.  And Eduardo made his choice — to create more stories just like his.

As Miami Dade’s President since 1995, Dr. Padron has built a “dream factory” for one of our nation’s most diverse student bodies — 165,000 students in all.  He’s one of the world’s preeminent education leaders — thinking out of the box, supporting students throughout their lives, embodying the belief that we’re only as great as the doors we open.  Eduardo’s example is one we all can follow — a champion for those who strive for the same American Dream that first drew him to our shores.

When Elouise Cobell first filed a lawsuit to recover lands and money for her people, she didn’t set out to be a hero.  She said, “I just wanted…to give justice to people that didn’t have it.”  And her lifelong quest to address the mismanagement of American Indian lands, resources, and trust funds wasn’t about special treatment, but the equal treatment at the heart of the American promise.  She fought for almost 15 years — across three Presidents, seven trials, 10 appearances before a federal appeals court.  All the while, she traveled the country some 40 weeks a year, telling the story of her people.  And in the end, this graduate of a one-room schoolhouse became a MacArthur Genius.  She is a proud daughter of Montana’s Blackfeet Nation.  Reached ultimately a historic victory for all Native Americans.  Through sheer force of will and a belief that the truth will win out, Elouise Cobell overcame the longest odds, reminding us that fighting for what is right is always worth it.

Now, every journalist in the room, every media critic knows the phrase Newt Minow coined: the “vast wasteland.”  But the two words Newt prefers we remember from his speech to the nation’s broadcasters are these: “public interest.”  That’s been the heartbeat of his life’s work — advocating for residents of public housing, advising a governor and Supreme Court justice, cementing presidential debates as our national institution, leading the FCC.

When Newt helped launch the first communications satellites, making nationwide broadcasts possible — and eventually GPS possible and cellphones possible — he predicted it would be more important than the moon landing.  “This will launch ideas into space,” he said, “and ideas last longer than people.”  As far as I know, he’s the only one of today’s honorees who was present on my first date with Michelle.  (Laughter.)  Imagine our surprise when we saw Newt, one of our bosses that summer, at the movie theater — Do the Right Thing.  So he’s been vital to my personal interests.  (Laughter.)

And finally, we honor five of the all-time greats in sports and music.

The game of baseball has a handful of signature sounds.  You hear the crack of the bat.  You got the crowd singing in the seventh inning stretch.  And you’ve got the voice of Vin Scully.  Most fans listen to a game’s broadcast when they can’t be at the ballpark.  Generations of Dodger fans brought their radios into the stands because you didn’t want to miss one of Vin’s stories.

Most play-by-play announcers partner with an analyst in the booth to chat about the action.  Vin worked alone and talked just with us.  Since Jackie Robinson started at second base, Vin taught us the game and introduced us to its players.  He narrated the improbable years, the impossible heroics, turned contests into conversations.  When he heard about this honor, Vin asked with characteristic humility, “Are you sure?  I’m just an old baseball announcer.”  And we had to inform him that to Americans of all ages, you are an old friend.  In fact, I thought about him doing all these citations, which would have been very cool, but I thought we shouldn’t make him sing for his supper like that.  (Laughter.)  “Up next” — (Laughter.)

Here’s how great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was:  1967, he had spent a year dominating college basketball, the NCAA bans the dunk.  They’d didn’t say it was about Kareem, but it was about Kareem.  (Laughter.)  When a sport changes its rules to make it harder just for you, you are really good.  (Laughter and applause.)  And yet despite the rule change, he was still the sport’s most unstoppable force.  It’s a title he’d hold for more than two decades, winning NBA Finals MVPs a staggering 14 years apart.  (Someone sneezes.)  Bless you.  (Laughter.)

And as a surprisingly similar-looking co-pilot, Roger Murdoch, once said in the movie, Airplane — I mean, we’ve got some great actors here — Space Jam, Airplane.  (Laughter.)  He did it all while dragging Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes.  But the reason we honor Kareem is more than just a pair of goggles and the skyhook.  He stood up for his Muslim faith when it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t popular.  He’s as comfortable sparring with Bruce Lee as he is advocating on Capitol Hill or writing with extraordinary eloquence about patriotism.  Physically, intellectually, spiritually — Kareem is one-of-a-kind — an American who illuminates both our most basic freedoms and our highest aspirations.

When he was five years old, Michael Jordan nearly cut off his big toe with an axe.  (Laughter.)  Back then, his handles needed a little work.  But think — if things had gone differently, Air Jordan just might never have taken flight.  (Laughter.)  I mean, you don’t want to buy a shoe with one toe missing.  (Laughter.)  We may never have seen him switch hands in mid-air against the Lakers.  Or drop 63 in the Garden.  Or gut it out in the flu game.  Or hit “the shot” three different times — over Georgetown, over Ehlo, over Russell.  We might not have seen him take on Larry Bird in H-O-R-S-E or lift up the sport globally along with the Dream Team.

Yet MJ is still more than those moments; more than just the best player on the two greatest teams of all time — the Dream Team and the Chicago ’96 Bulls.  He’s more than a logo, more than just an Internet meme.  (Laughter.)  More than just a charitable donor or a business owner committed to diversity.  There is a reason you call someone “the Michael Jordan of” — Michael Jordan of neurosurgery, or the Michael Jordan of rabbis, or the Michael Jordan of outrigger canoeing — and they know what you’re talking about.  Because Michael Jordan is the Michael Jordan of greatness.  He is the definition of somebody so good at what they do that everybody recognizes them.  That’s pretty rare.

As a child, Diana Ross loved singing and dancing for family friends — but not for free.  (Laughter.)  She was smart enough to pass the hat.  And later, in Detroit’s Brewster housing projects, she met Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard.  Their neighbor, Smokey Robinson, put them in front of Berry Gordy — and the rest was magic — music history.  The Supremes earned a permanent place in the American soundtrack.

Along with her honey voice, her soulful sensibility, Diana exuded glamour and grace that filled stages that helped to shape the sound of Motown.  On top of becoming one of the most successful recording artists of all time, raised five kids — somehow found time to earn an Oscar nomination for acting.  Today, from the hip-hop that samples her, to the young singers who’ve been inspired by her, to the audiences that still cannot get enough of her — Diana Ross’s influence is inescapable as ever.

He was sprung from a cage out on Highway 9.  A quiet kid from Jersey, just trying to make sense of the temples of dreams and mystery that dotted his hometown — pool halls, bars, girls and cars, altars and assembly lines.  And for decades, Bruce Springsteen has brought us all along on a journey consumed with the bargains between ambition and injustice, and pleasure and pain; the simple glories and scattered heartbreak of everyday life in America.

To create one of his biggest hits, he once said, “I wanted to craft a record that sounded like the last record on Earth…the last one you’d ever need to hear.  One glorious noise…then the apocalypse.”  Every restless kid in America was given a story: “Born to Run.”

He didn’t stop there.  Once he told us about himself, he told us about everybody else.  The steelworker in “Youngstown.”  The Vietnam Vet in “Born in the USA.”  The sick and the marginalized on “The Streets of Philadelphia.”  The firefighter carrying the weight of a reeling but resilient nation on “The Rising.”  The young soldier reckoning with “Devils and Dust” in Iraq.  The communities knocked down by recklessness and greed in the “Wrecking Ball.”  All of us, with all our faults and our failings, every color, and class, and creed, bound together by one defiant, restless train rolling toward “The Land of Hope and Dreams.”  These are all anthems of our America; the reality of who we are, and the reverie of who we want to be.

“The hallmark of a rock and roll band,” Bruce Springsteen once said, is that “the narrative you tell together is bigger than anyone could have told on your own.”  And for decades, alongside the Big Man, Little Steven, a Jersey girl named Patti, and all the men and women of the E Street Band, Bruce Springsteen has been carrying the rest of us on his journey, asking us all “what is the work for us to do in our short time here.”

I am the President.  But he is The Boss.  (Laughter.)  And pushing 70, he’s still laying down four-hour live sets — if you have been at them, he is working.  “Fire-breathing rock ‘n’ roll.”  So I thought twice about giving him a medal named for freedom because we hope he remains, in his words, a “prisoner of rock ‘n’ roll” for years to come.

So, I told you, this is like a really good class.  (Laughter.)

Ladies and gentlemen, I want you all to give it up for the recipients of the 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom.  (Applause.)  It is a good group.

All right.  Now we actually got to give them medals.  So please be patient.  We are going to have my military aide read the citations.  Each one of them will come up and receive the medals, and then we’ll wrap up the program.

Okay.  Let’s hit it.

MILITARY AIDE:  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  (Applause.)  An iconic basketball player who revolutionized the sport with his all-around play and signature skyhook, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a 19-time All-Star, a 6-time world champion, and the leading scorer in NBA history.  Adding to his achievements on the court he also left his mark off of it, advocating for civil rights, cancer research, science education, and social justice.  In doing so, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar leaves a towering legacy of compassion, faith, and service to others — a legacy based not only on the strength and grace of his athleticism, but on the sharpness of his mind and the size of his heart.  (Applause.)

Turk Cobell, accepting on behalf of his mother, Elouise C. Cobell Yellowbird Woman.  (Applause.)  A member of the Blackfeet Nation, Elouise Cobell spent her life defying the odds and working on behalf of her people.  As a young woman, she was told that she wasn’t capable of understanding accounting.  So she mastered the field — and used her expertise to champion a lawsuit whose historic settlement has helped restore Tribal homelands to her beloved Blackfeet Nation and many other Tribes.  Today, her tenacious and unwavering spirit lives on in the thousands of people and hundreds of Tribes for whom she fought and in all those she taught to believe that it is never too late to right the wrongs of the past and help shape a better future.  (Applause.)

Ellen DeGeneres.  (Applause.)  In a career spanning three decades, Ellen DeGeneres has lifted our spirits and brought joy to our lives as a stand-up comic, actor, and television star.  In every role, she reminds us to be kind to one another and to treat people as each of us wants to be treated.  At a pivotal moment, her courage and candor helped change the hearts and minds of millions of Americans, accelerating our Nation’s constant drive toward equality and acceptance for all.  Again and again, Ellen DeGeneres has shown us that a single individual can make the world a more fun, more open, more loving place — so long as we “just keep swimming.”  (Applause.)

Robert De Niro.  (Applause.)  For over 50 years, Robert De Niro has delivered some of screen’s most memorable performances, cementing his place as one of the most gifted actors of his generation.  From “The Godfather Part II” and “The Deer Hunter” to “Midnight Run” and “Heat,” his work is legendary for its range and depth.  Relentlessly committed to his craft, De Niro embodies his characters, creating rich, nuanced portraits that reflect the heart of the human experience.  Regardless of genre or era, Robert De Niro continues to demonstrate that extraordinary skill that has made him one of America’s most revered and influential artists.  (Applause.)

Richard L. Garwin.  (Applause.)  One of the most renowned scientific and engineering minds of our time, Dr. Richard Garwin has always answered the call to help solve society’s most challenging problems.  He has coupled his pioneering work in defense and intelligence technologies with leadership that underscores the urgency for humanity to control the spread of nuclear arms.  Through his advice to Republican and Democratic administrations dating to President Eisenhower, his contributions in fundamental research, and his inventions that power technologies that drive our modern world, Richard Garwin has contributed not only to this Nation’s security and prosperity, but to the quality of life for people all over the world.  (Applause.)

William H. Gates III and Melinda French Gates.  (Applause.)  Few people have had the profound global impact of Bill and Melinda Gates.  Through their work at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, they’ve demonstrated how the most capable and fortunate among us have a responsibility to use their talents and resources to tackle the world’s greatest challenges.  From helping women and girls lift themselves and their families out of poverty to empowering young minds across America, they have transformed countless lives with their generosity and innovation.  Bill and Melinda Gates continue to inspire us with their impatient optimism that, together, we can remake the world as it should be.  (Applause.)

Frank Gehry.  (Applause.)  Never limited by conventional materials, styles, or processes, Frank Gehry’s bold and thoughtful structures demonstrate architecture’s power to induce wonder and revitalize communities.  A creative mind from an early age, he began his career by building imaginary homes and cities with scrap material from his grandfather’s hardware store.  Since then, his work continues to strike a balance between experimentation and functionality, resulting in some of the 20th century’s most iconic buildings.  From his pioneering use of technology to the dozens of awe-inspiring sites that bear his signature style to his public service as a citizen artist through his work with Turnaround Arts, Frank Gehry has proven himself an exemplar scholar of American innovation.  (Applause.)

Margaret Heafield Hamilton.  (Applause.)  A pioneer in technology, Margaret Hamilton defined new forms of software engineering and helped launch an industry that would forever change human history.  Her software architecture led to giant leaps for humankind, writing the code that helped America set foot on the moon.  She broke barriers in founding her own software businesses, revolutionizing an industry and inspiring countless women to participate in STEM fields.  Her love of exploration and innovation are the source code of the American spirit, and her genius has inspired generations to reach for the stars.  (Applause.)

Thomas J. Hanks.  (Applause.)  Throughout a distinguished film career, Tom Hanks has revealed the character of America, as well as his own.  Portraying war heroes, an astronaut, a ship captain, a cartoon cowboy, a young man growing up too fast, and dozens of others, he’s allowed us to see ourselves — not only as we are, but as we aspire to be.  On screen and off, Tom Hanks has honored the sacrifices of those who have served our Nation, called on us all to think big and to believe, and inspired a new generation of young people to reach for the sky.  (Laughter and applause.)

Deborah Murray, accepting on behalf of her great aunt, Grace Murray Hopper.  (Applause.)  As a child who loved disassembling alarm clocks, Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper found her calling early.  A Vassar alumna with a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale, Hopper served in the Navy during World War II, becoming one of the first programmers in early computing.  Known today as the “Queen of Code,” Grace Hopper’s work helped make the coding language more practical and accessible.  She invented the first compiler, or translator, a fundamental element of our now digital world.  “Amazing Grace” was committed to making the language of computer programming more universal.  Today, we honor her contributions to computer science and the sense of possibility she inspired in generations of young people.  (Applause.)

Michael J. Jordan.  (Applause and laughter.)  Powered by a drive to compete that earned him every major award in basketball, including six NBA championships, five Most Valuable Player awards, and two gold medals, Michael Jordan has a name that’s become a synonym for excellence.  His wagging tongue and high-flying dunks redefined the game, making him a global superstar whose impact transcended basketball and shaped our Nation’s broader culture.  From the courts in Wilmington, Chapel Hill, and Chicago to the owner’s suite he occupies today, his life and example have inspired millions of Americans to strive to “Be Like Mike.”  (Applause.)

Maya Y. Lin.  (Applause.)  Boldly challenging our understanding of the world, Maya Lin’s designs have brought people of all walks of life together in spirits of remembrance, introspection, and humility.  The manipulation of natural terrain and topography within her works inspires us to bridge our differences and recognize the gravity of our collective existence.  Her pieces have changed the landscape of our country and influenced the dialogue of our society — never more profoundly than with her tribute to the Americans who fell in Vietnam by cutting a wound into the Earth to create a sacred place of healing in our Nation’s capital.  (Applause.)

Lorne Michaels.  (Applause.)  One of the most transformative entertainment figures of our time, Lorne Michaels followed his dreams to New York City, where he created a sketch show that brought satire, wits, and modern comedy to homes around the world.  Under his meticulous command as executive producer, “Saturday Night Live” has entertained audiences across generations, reflecting — and shaping — critical elements of our cultural, political, and national life.  Lorne Michaels’ creative legacy stretches into late-night television, sitcoms, and the big screen, making us laugh, challenging us to think, and raising the bar for those who follow.  As one of his show’s signature characters would say, “Well, isn’t that special?”  (Laughter and applause.)

Newton N. Minow.  (Applause.)  As a soldier, counsel to the Governor of Illinois, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, and law clerk to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Newton Minow’s career has been defined by his devotion to others.  Deeply committed to his family, the law, and the American people, his dedication to serving and empowering the public is reflected in his efforts to ensure that broadcast media educates and provides opportunity for all.  Challenging the media to better serve their viewers, his staunch commitment to the power of ideas and information has transformed telecommunications and its influential role in our society.  (Applause.)

Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón.  (Applause.)  As a teenage refugee from Cuba, Eduardo Padrón came to the United States to pursue the American Dream, and he has spent his life making that dream real for others.  As president of the community college he once attended, his thoughtful leadership and commitment to education have transformed Miami Dade College into one of the premier learning institutions in the country, earning him praise around the world.  His personal story and lasting professional influence prove that success need not be determined by our background, but by our dedication to others and our passion for creating America that is as inclusive as it is prosperous.  (Applause.)

Robert Redford.  (Applause.)  Robert Redford has captivated audiences from both sides of the camera through entertaining motion pictures that often explore vital social, political, and historical themes.  His lifelong advocacy on behalf of preserving our environment will prove as an enduring legacy as his award-winning films, as will his pioneering support for independent filmmakers across America.  His art and activism continue to shape our Nation’s cultural heritage, inspiring millions to laugh, cry, think, and change.  (Applause.)

Diana Ross.  (Applause and laughter.)  A daughter of Detroit, Diana Ross helped create the sound of Motown with her iconic voice.  From her groundbreaking work with The Supremes to a solo career that has spanned decades, she has influenced generations of young artists and shaped our Nation’s musical landscape.  In addition to a GRAMMY© Lifetime Achievement Award and countless musical accolades, Diana Ross has distinguished herself as an actor, earning an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe Award.  With over 25 albums, unforgettable hit singles, and live performances that continue to captivate audiences around the world, Diana Ross still reigns supreme.  (Applause.)

Next up, Vin Scully.  (Laughter and applause.)  With a voice that transcended a sport and transformed a profession, Vin Scully narrated America’s pastime for generations of fans.  Known to millions as the soundtrack of summer, he found time to teach us about life and love while chronicling routine plays and historic heroics.  In victory and in defeat, his colorful accounts reverberated through the bleachers, across the airwaves, and into our homes and imaginations.  He is an American treasure and a beloved storyteller, and our country’s gratitude for Vin Scully is as profound as his love for the game.  (Applause.)

Bruce F. Springsteen.  (Applause.)  As a songwriter, a humanitarian, America’s Rock and Roll laureate, and New Jersey’s greatest ambassador, Bruce Springsteen is, quite simply, The Boss.  (Laughter.)  Through stories about ordinary people, from Vietnam veterans to steel workers, his songs capture the pain and the promise of the American experience.  With his legendary E Street Band, Bruce Springsteen leaves everything on stage in epic, communal live performances that have rocked audiences for decades.  With empathy and honesty, he holds up a mirror to who we are — as Americans chasing our dreams, and as human beings trying to do the right thing.  There’s a place for everyone in Bruce Springsteen’s America.  (Applause.)

Cicely Tyson.  (Applause.)  For sixty years, Cicely Tyson has graced the screen and the stage, enlightening us with her groundbreaking characters and calls to conscience, humility, and hope.  Her achievements as an actor, her devotion to her faith, and her commitment to advancing equality for all Americans—especially women of color — have touched audiences of multiple generations.  From “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” to “Sounder,” to “The Trip to Bountiful,” Cicely Tyson’s performances illuminate the character of our people and the extraordinary possibilities of America.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  So, just on a personal note, part of the reason that these events are so special to me is because everybody on this stage has touched me in a very powerful, personal way — in ways that they probably couldn’t imagine.  Whether it was having been inspired by a song, or a game, or a story, or a film, or a monument, or in the case of Newt Minow introducing me to Michelle — (laughter) — these are folks who have helped make me who I am and think about my presidency, and what also makes them special is, this is America.

And it’s useful when you think about this incredible collection of people to realize that this is what makes us the greatest nation on Earth.  Not because of what we — (applause.)  Not because of our differences, but because, in our difference, we find something common to share.  And what a glorious thing that is.  What a great gift that is to America.

So I want all of you to enjoy the wonderful reception that will be taking place afterwards.  Michelle and I have to get back to work, unfortunately, but I hear the food is pretty good.  (Laughter.)  And I would like all of you to give one big rousing round of applause to our 2016 honorees for the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Give it up.  (Applause.)

END
4:14 P.M. EST

Politics November 22, 2016: Melania Trump redefining the role of the first lady away from the White House

HEADLINE NEWS

Headline_News

POLITICS

 By Bonnie K. Goodman

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09:  Republican president-elect Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd along with his son (L-R) Barron Trump, wife Melania Trump, Jared Kushner and Tiffany Trump during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 in New York City. Donald Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 09: Republican president-elect Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd along with his son (L-R) Barron Trump, wife Melania Trump, Jared Kushner and Tiffany Trump during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 in New York City. Donald Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

As President-Elect Donald Trump conducts numerous meetings with potential candidates to fill cabinet posts, there is another important part of the transition process moving into the White House. On Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, the New York Post reported that First Lady Melania Trump and son Barron would not be moving into the White House after the Jan. 20 inauguration. Trump will be moving in immediately, but his wife and 10-year-old son will join him at the end of the school year.

The Trumps do not want to disrupt son Barron, who is in the middle of the fourth grade at a prestigious prep school, the Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School on the Upper West Side. Throughout the campaign, Barron has been kept out of the spotlight, except Trump announcing his candidacy, the Republican National convention and election night the public has not seen Barron. Melania also has not been that visible on the campaign trail, except the convention, a few interviews and the last days of the campaign where she gave a speech and joined her husband campaigning. The future first lady, 46, is the first foreign-born one in 200 years, and her few forays into the political life has been met with criticism.

A source told the New York Post, “Melania is extremely close to Barron, and they have become closer during the campaign. The campaign has been difficult for Barron, and she is really hoping to keep disruption to a minimum.” The future first lady repeatedly said during the few interviews she participated in throughout the campaign that she is a hands-on mother, does not have a nanny, and wants to keep her son shielded from the public as possible.

Unfortunately, with staying in New York at the Trump Tower, Melania will not be able to drive  Barron around anymore to school and his activities. They will have Secret Service agents and the NYPD watching their residence, and the Secret Service will drive them around in an armored vehicle. The Secret Service has already descended at their Fifth Avenue home, with the area around closed to traffic.

Melania is committed to her duties as the first lady, and she will travel to Washington as needed. A source told the New York Post, “Melania is very supportive of her husband and is fully on board of doing everything that’s needed as first lady.” The press asked the President-elect on Sunday, Nov. 20, as he emerged from meetings at his Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey about the living arrangements and if his wife and son will be moving into the White House, Trump responded, “very soon. Right after he finishes school.”

Afterward, Trump Transition spokesman Jason Miller commented, “The Trump family is energized and excited about their new role serving the country, and specifically the President-elect’s task at hand of helping to move our country forward. No official statement has been released by the Trump family regarding transition timing, but like any parents they are concerned about pulling their 10-year-old son out of school in the middle of the year. We would also appreciate the same privacy and security considerations given to previous First Families with regard to minor children be extended to the Trumps as well.”

Although it was common for first ladies in the nineteenth century to stay home or delay moving to the White House, no first lady in modern history did not initially move into the White House after the inauguration. Ryder University First Ladies’ scholar Myra Gutin told USA Today, Melania Trump “very well may be the first telecommuting first lady.”

Gutin sees Melania’s decision to stay away from a problem for her completing her duties as the first lady and for her husband’s fledgling administration. Although the first lady is an unpaid position with no constitutional role, she maintains almost as large staff in the East Wing as the president does in the West Wing. Gutin says, “The public is split on what it wants the first lady to be,” Gutin says. “Half prefer she just serve tea and be ceremonial. The other half says you have an incredible platform here, what are you going to do with it? If we’re not seeing her, if she’s hiding away, I can’t see it as helpful (to the Trump administration).”

While Melania Trump has the style of former First Lady Jackie Kennedy, her decision to stay away from the White House most resembles First Lady Bess Truman, the wife of President Harry Truman, who served as the 33rd president from 1945 to 1953. Truman spent as much time as possible away from the White House and Washington and in their native Missouri with the Trumans’ only daughter Margret. Truman spent most of her summers at her home in Missouri. Gutin explained the primary reason Truman spent time in Missouri; it was because “Mrs. Truman wanted Margaret to have a more down-to-earth upbringing.”

Like Melania, Bess was uncomfortable with the limelight of the presidency. Despite being more reticent of the limelight, Bess Truman was a successful first lady, who lobbied and oversaw the renovation of the White House as it was stripped to its bare walls. The success of Bess Truman proves that especially now in this technologically advanced age, Melania Trump can make it work as First Lady until the end of the school year in June, as long as she eventually moves into the White House.

Politics November 15, 2016: President-elect Trump’s potential cabinet picks

HEADLINE NEWS

Headline_News

POLITICS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

LAKELAND, FL - OCTOBER 12: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani campaign together during a rally at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport on October 12, 2016 in Lakeland, Florida. Trump continues to campaign against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with less than one month to Election Day. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

LAKELAND, FL – OCTOBER 12: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani campaign together during a rally at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport on October 12, 2016 in Lakeland, Florida. Trump continues to campaign against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with less than one month to Election Day. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Now that Donald Trump has been elected president, he begins his presidential transition from the election until the inauguration. The first task of newly elect president is forming his cabinet and White House team, and staffing all the departments. Trump revised his transition team on Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, replacing New Jersey Governor Christie as Chairman with his Vice President Mike Pence. Trump has already appointed two key members to his White House staff.

Trump named on Sunday, Nov. 13, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will serve as White House Chief of Staff and Trump for President CEO and Breitbart editor Stephen K. Bannon will serve as Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President.

The Trump team has indicated they might announce Treasury Secretary later this week, and former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani has implied he would not be Attorney General, but he is now at the top of the list for Secretary of State. While campaign surrogate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson says he will not accept a position in a Trump cabinet.

The following is a list of prospective candidates for each post from the New York Times updated on Nov. 14 (candidate descriptions also quoted from the NYT):

Secretary of State

  •  John R. Bolton Former United States ambassador to the United Nations under George W. Bush
  •  Bob Corker Senator from Tennessee and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
  •  Newt Gingrich Former House speaker
  •  Rudolph W. Giuliani Former New York mayor
  •  Zalmay Khalilzad Former United States ambassador to Afghanistan
  •  Stanley A. McChrystal Former senior military commander in Afghanistan

Treasury Secretary

  • Thomas Barrack Jr. Founder, chairman and executive chairman of Colony Capital; private equity and real estate investor
  • Jeb Hensarling Representative from Texas and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee
  • Steven Mnuchin Former Goldman Sachs executive and Mr. Trump’s campaign finance chairman
  • Tim Pawlenty Former Minnesota governor

Defense Secretary

  • Kelly Ayotte Departing senator from New Hampshire and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee
  • Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn Former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (he would need a waiver from Congress because of a seven-year rule for retired officers)
  • Stephen J. Hadley National security adviser under George W. Bush
  • Jon Kyl Former senator from Arizona
  • Jeff Sessions Senator from Alabama who is a prominent immigration opponent

Attorney General

  • Chris Christie New Jersey governor
  • Rudolph W. Giuliani Former New York mayor
  • Jeff Sessions Senator from Alabama

Interior Secretary

  • Jan Brewer Former Arizona governor
  • Robert E. Grady Gryphon Investors partner
  • Harold G. Hamm Chief executive of Continental Resources, an oil and gas company
  • Forrest Lucas President of Lucas Oil Products, which manufactures automotive lubricants, additives and greases
  • Sarah Palin Former Alaska governor

Agriculture Secretary

  • Sam Brownback Kansas governor
  • Chuck Conner Chief executive officer of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
  • Sid Miller Texas agricultural commissioner
  • Sonny Perdue Former Georgia governor

Commerce Secretary

  • Chris Christie New Jersey governor
  • Dan DiMicco Former chief executive of Nucor Corporation, steel production company
  • Lewis M. Eisenberg Private equity chief for Granite Capital International Group

Labor Secretary

  • Victoria A. Lipnic Equal Employment Opportunity commissioner and work force policy counsel to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce

Health and Human Services Secretary

  • Dr. Ben Carson Former neurosurgeon and 2016 presidential candidate
  • Mike Huckabee Former Arkansas governor and 2016 presidential candidate
  • Bobby Jindal Former Louisiana governor who served as secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals
  • Rick Scott Florida governor and former chief executive of a large hospital chain

Energy Secretary

  • James L. Connaughton Chief executive of Nautilus Data Technologies and former environmental adviser to President George W. Bush
  • Robert E. Grady Gryphon Investors partner
  • Harold G. Hamm Chief executive of Continental Resources, an oil and gas company

Education Secretary

  • Dr. Ben Carson Former neurosurgeon and 2016 presidential candidate
  • Williamson M. Evers Education expert at the Hoover Institution, a think tank

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

  • Jeff Miller Retired chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee

Homeland Security Secretary

  • Joe Arpaio Departing sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz.
  • David A. Clarke Jr. Milwaukee County sheriff
  • Michael McCaul Representative from Texas and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee
  • Jeff Sessions Senator from Alabama

E.P.A. Administrator

  • Myron Ebell A director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and a prominent climate change skeptic
  • Robert E. Grady Gryphon Investors partner who was involved in drafting the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990
  • Jeffrey R. Holmstead Lawyer with Bracewell L.L.P. and former deputy E.P.A. administrator in the George W. Bush administration

U.S. Trade Representative

  • Dan DiMicco Former chief executive of Nucor Corporation, a steel production company, and a critic of Chinese trade practices

U.N. Ambassador

  • Kelly Ayotte Departing senator from New Hampshire and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee
  • Richard Grenell Former spokesman for the United States ambassador to the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration

Full Text Political Transcripts November 10, 2016: President Obama and President-elect Trump press conference after White House meeting

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION:

Remarks by President Obama and President-elect Trump After Meeting

Source: WH, 11-10-16

Oval Office

12:36 P.M. EST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, I just had the opportunity to have an excellent conversation with President-elect Trump.  It was wide-ranging.  We talked about some of the organizational issues in setting up the White House.  We talked about foreign policy.  We talked about domestic policy.  And as I said last night, my number-one priority in the coming two months is to try to facilitate a transition that ensures our President-elect is successful.

And I have been very encouraged by the, I think, interest in President-elect Trump’s wanting to work with my team around many of the issues that this great country faces.  And I believe that it is important for all of us, regardless of party and regardless of political preferences, to now come together, work together, to deal with the many challenges that we face.

And in the meantime, Michelle has had a chance to greet the incoming First Lady.  And we had an excellent conversation with her as well, and we want to make sure that they feel welcome as they prepare to make this transition.

Most of all, I want to emphasize to you, Mr. President-elect, that we now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed — because if you succeed, then the country succeeds.

Please.

PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP:  Well, thank you very much, President Obama.  This was a meeting that was going to last for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, and we were just going to get to know each other.  We had never met each other.  I have great respect.  The meeting lasted for almost an hour and a half.  And it could have — as far as I’m concerned, it could have gone on for a lot longer.

We really — we discussed a lot of different situations, some wonderful and some difficulties.  I very much look forward to dealing with the President in the future, including counsel.  He explained some of the difficulties, some of the high-flying assets and some of the really great things that have been achieved.

So, Mr. President, it was a great honor being with you, and I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future.

END
12:40 P.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts March 28, 2016: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Remarks at the 2016 Easter Egg Roll

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President and First Lady at the 2016 Easter Egg Roll

Source: WH, 3-28-16

 

South Lawn

10:41 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  How’s everybody doing today?  (Applause.)  Happy Easter!  You guys brought the sun out, so we appreciate that so much.  This is always one of our favorite events of the year.  It’s so much fun.  And I don’t want to talk too long, but I do want to make sure that everybody thanks our outstanding Marine band, who does such a great job.  (Applause.)  I want to thank all the volunteers who have helped to make this day possible.  Give them a huge round of applause.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama!  (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Yay!  Thank you, honey.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

MRS. OBAMA:  Here, you take Sunny.  Hi, everybody!  (Applause.)  Happy Easter Egg Roll Day!  Are you all having a good time?

AUDIENCE:  Yeah!

MRS. OBAMA:  It is going to be perfect weather.  The sun is coming out, which is always a great omen for the day.  We’re just thrilled to have you all here.  Today is a little bit bittersweet for us, because this is the Obama administration’s last Easter Egg Roll.

AUDIENCE:  Aww —

MRS. OBAMA:  Yes.  And if we think about what we’ve accomplished over these past seven years, it’s pretty incredible.  Because when Barack and I first got here, one of the goals that we had was to open up the White House to as many people from as many backgrounds as possible.  So open it up to our kids, to our musicians, to explore our culture, to expose families to healthy living, and to just have a lot of fun.

THE PRESIDENT:  And our military families.

MRS. OBAMA:  And also to our military families.  I’ve got the peanut crew back here reminding me of stuff.  But we can’t forget all of our military families, who we love, honor and respect, for their service and sacrifice.  (Applause.)

And since we started having Easter Egg Rolls, we’ve had more than 250,000 people come to this lawn every year.  It’s been amazing.  Today we’re going to have 35,000 people who will come in and out of the South Lawn over the course of the day.  And we couldn’t be more excited for this last Easter Egg Roll.  We have danced.  We have done yoga.  We’ve got our Soul Cyclers here.  We’ve got some tremendous athletes and entertainers and artists who are going to read and play games with you all.  We’ve got a little “whip” and a little “nae nae” — or however you do it.  (Laughter.)  Something like that.

So we just want you to have fun.  And the theme this year in our final year is pretty simple.  It’s:  Let’s celebrate.  Let’s celebrate all the good work that we’ve done, all the great messaging we’ve had.  All the amazing change that we’ve seen in this country.  And we want to celebrate our families.  We want to celebrate our nation — everything that makes us strong.  It’s our diversity, it’s our values.  That’s what makes us strong.

And me and this President, we have been honored to be here as your President and First Lady to be able to host you in our backyard every single year.  So I hope you guys have a terrific time.  We’re going to be out there doing a little egg-rolling.  We’re going to have a fun-run today.  I’m going to be running around the White House with a bunch of kids — and any adults who feel like they can hang.  (Laughter.)  You guys can run along with me.  Don’t feel shy.

So just have a good time.  And just know that we love you.  We love you all, and we’re grateful for the love and support that you’ve shown us all these years.  So thank you all.

THE PRESIDENT:  Happy Easter, everybody!

MRS. OBAMA:  Happy Easter!  (Applause.)  Let’s celebrate!

END
10:45 A.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts November 9, 2015: President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Statement before their White House Meeting Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel Before Bilateral Meeting

Source: WH, 11-9-15

Oval Office

10:34 A.M. EST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, it is very good to welcome once again Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu to the Oval Office.  There’s no foreign leader who I’ve met with more frequently, and I think that’s a testimony to the extraordinary bond between the United States and Israel.

Before I get started, I just want to say a brief word about the Jordanian attack that we discovered earlier — the fact that someone dressed in military uniform carried out an attack at a training facility in which it appears that there may have been two or three U.S. citizens killed, and a number of other individuals injured.  Obviously, a full investigation is taking place.  We take this very seriously, and we’ll be working closely with the Jordanians to determine exactly what happened.  But at this stage, I want to just let everyone know that this is something we’re paying close attention to.  And at the point where the families have been notified, obviously our deepest condolences will be going out to them.

I also want to extend my condolences to the Israeli people on the passing of former President Navon.  Obviously, he was an important figure in Israeli politics.  And we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family.

This is going to be an opportunity for the Prime Minister and myself to engage in a wide-ranging discussion on some of the most pressing security issues that both our countries face.  It’s no secret that the security environment in the Middle East has deteriorated in many areas.  And as I’ve said repeatedly, the security of Israel is one of my top foreign policy priorities.  And that has expressed itself not only in words, but in deeds.

We have closer military and intelligence cooperation than any two administrations in history.  The military assistance that we provide we consider not only an important part of our obligation to the security of the state of Israel, but also an important part of U.S. security infrastructure in the region, as we make sure that one of our closest allies cannot only protect itself but can also work with us in deterring terrorism and other security threats.

In light of what continues to be a chaotic situation in Syria, this will give us an opportunity to discuss what’s happening there.  We’ll have an opportunity to discuss how we can blunt the activities of ISIL, Hezbollah and other organizations in the region that carry out terrorist attacks.  A lot of our time will be spent on a memorandum of understanding that we can potentially negotiate.  It will be expiring in a couple of years, but we want to get a head start on that to make sure that both the United States and Israel can plan effectively for our defense needs going forward.

We’ll also have a chance to talk about how implementation of the Iran nuclear agreement is going.  It’s no secret that the Prime Minister and I have had a strong disagreement on this narrow issue, but we don’t have a disagreement on the need to making sure that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon, and we don’t have a disagreement about the importance of us blunting and destabilizing activities that Iran may be taking place.  And so we’re going to be looking to make sure that we find common ground there.

And we will also have an opportunity to discuss some of the concerns that both of us have around violence in the Palestinian Territories.  I want to be very clear that we condemn in the strongest terms Palestinian violence against its and Israeli citizens.  And I want to repeat once again, it is my strong belief that Israel has not just the right, but the obligation to protect itself.

I also will discuss with the Prime Minister his thoughts on how we can lower the temperature between Israelis and Palestinians, how we can get back on a path towards peace, and how we can make sure that legitimate Palestinian aspirations are met through a political process, even as we make sure that Israel is able to secure itself.

And so this is going to be a lot of work to do, with too little time, which is why I will stop here and just once again say, welcome.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you.  Mr. President, first let me express the condolences of the people of Israel for the loss of American lives.  We are with you.  We’re with each other in more ways than one.  And I want to thank you for this opportunity to strengthen our friendship, which is strong; strengthen our alliance, which is strong.  I think it’s rooted in shared values.  It’s buttressed by shared interests.  It’s driven forward by a sense of a shared destiny.

We are obviously tested today in the instability and insecurity in the Middle East, as you described it.  I think everybody can see it — with the savagery of ISIS, with the aggression and terror by Iran’s proxies and by Iran itself.  And the combination of turbulence has now displaced millions of people, has butchered hundreds of thousands.  And we don’t know what will transpire.

And I think this is a tremendously important opportunity for us to work together to see how we can defend ourselves against this aggression and this terror; how we can roll back.  It’s a daunting task.

Equally, I want to make it clear that we have not given up our hope for peace.  We’ll never give up the hope for peace.  And I remain committed to a vision of peace of two states for two peoples, a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state.

I don’t think that anyone should doubt Israel’s determination to defend itself against terror and destruction, and neither should anyone doubt Israel’s willingness to make peace with any of its neighbors that genuinely want to achieve peace with us.  And I look forward to discussing with you practical ways in which we can lower the tension, increase stability, and move towards peace.

And finally, Mr. President, I want to thank you for your commitment to further bolstering Israel’s security in the memorandum of understanding that we’re discussing.  Israel has shouldered a tremendous defense burden over the years, and we’ve done it with the generous assistance of the United States of America.  And I want to express my appreciation to you and express the appreciation of the people of Israel to you for your efforts in this regard during our years of common service and what you’re engaging in right now — how to bolster Israel’s security, how to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge so that Israel can, as you’ve often said, defend itself, by itself, against any threat.

So for all these reasons, I want to thank you again for your hospitality, but even more so for sustaining and strengthening the tremendous friendship and alliance between Israel and the United States of America.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

END
10:43 A.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts September 23, 2015: Pope Francis Addresses President Barack Obama And Guests At White House Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS:

Pope Francis Addresses President Obama And Guests At White House (Full Transcript)

Source: Huffington Post, 9-23-15

Mr. President,

I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of all Americans. As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families. I look forward to these days of encounter and dialogue, in which I hope to listen to, and share, many of the hopes and dreams of the American people.

During my visit I will have the honor of addressing Congress, where I hope, as a brother of this country, to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation’s political future in fidelity to its founding principles. I will also travel to Philadelphia for the Eighth World Meeting of Families, to celebrate and support the institutions of marriage and the family at this, a critical moment in the history of our civilization.

Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination. With countless other people of good will, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty. That freedom remains one of America’s most precious possessions. And, as my brothers, the United States Bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.

Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our “common home”, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about “a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change” (Laudato Si’, 13). Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them. Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities and our societies. To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it.

We know by faith that “the Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home” (Laudato Si’, 13). As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home.

The efforts which were recently made to mend broken relationships and to open new doors to cooperation within our human family represent positive steps along the path of reconciliation, justice and freedom. I would like all men and women of good will in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development, so that our brothers and sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and prosperity which God wills for all his children.

Mr. President, once again I thank you for your welcome, and I look forward to these days in your country. God bless America!

Full Text Obama Presidency July 10, 2015: First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama’s Remarks at the Kids’ State Dinner Transcript

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the First Lady and the President at the Kids’ State Dinner

Source: WH, 7-10-15

State Dining Room

11:56 A.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA:  I see tears.  (Laughter.)  I do.  Wow, Abby, amazing.  We’re so proud of you.  Man, good stuff!  Very good stuff.

You guys, welcome to the White House.  Let’s say that again — welcome to the White House!  (Applause.)

This is the whole house’s favorite event — the Kids’ State Dinner.  Look at this place.  Do you know how many people put time and effort into making this as amazing as it can be for you?  So let’s give everyone who helped put this event together a wonderful round of applause.  (Applause.)

And I want to again thank Abby for her amazing introduction, but more importantly, for listening to what I said about paying it forward.  I thank you.  (Laughter.)  I need you to talk to my children.  (Laughter.)  Listen to me.  (Laughter.)  Abby, great job.  So proud of you, babe, really.

I also want to thank PBS and WGBH Boston for their tremendous generosity in sponsoring our Kids’ State Dinner and our Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.  So I want to give them another round of applause.  (Applause.)

And, of course, to Tanya.  Tanya, this is just a great partnership.  You are amazing.  There you are.  The work you do is amazing.  And it’s always so much fun seeing you here at this event.  Thank you for everything that you do year after year.

I also want to acknowledge all the folks from the Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture.  They make a fabulous set of partners on so much of the work that we do.  And I know we have representatives from those departments here, so I want to thank you all for the great work that you do.  Well done.

And how about we give a shout-out to the parents and siblings and grandparents who — yes — (laughter) — who got you all here today.  Let’s give them a round of applause.  (Applause.)   We want to say officially thank you, families, for encouraging these young people — even when they made a mess in the kitchen.  But I’m sure they cleaned up, too.  Right?  (Laughter.)  Thank you all.  Thank you for raising and being part of raising such wonderful young men and women.  And it’s wonderful to have you all here.  They couldn’t do it without you and without that support.  So we are celebrating you all as well.

And finally, most of all, congratulations to all of this year’s 55 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge winners!  (Applause.)  That’s you!  And you, and you!  Yes!  Just so that our press understands — welcome press — (laughter) — all our young press people.  This is the only time we let kids in the press pool.  You guys do your jobs.  Do your jobs over there.  Don’t let the grown-ups push you out of the way.  (Laughter.)

Nearly 1,000 kids entered this contest — 1,000!  Right?  This was a real competition.  But after countless hours of prepping and taste-testing your recipes, our panel of distinguished judges — some of whom are here today, including Deb — she ate every bite — (laughter) — decided that your meals were the healthiest, tastiest, and most fun dishes to cook and to eat!

So you had many hurdles to overcome.  It had to be healthy, tasty, and good to eat, and you did it!  Yes!  (Applause.)  Fabulous!  And you look so good!  (Laughter.)  You all are so handsome and gorgeous.  So you can cook and your smart and you look great, and you’re here at the White House.  It’s just wonderful.

You blew the judges away with your talent and creativity.  You included fruits and veggies from every color of the rainbow in your recipes.  You used all kinds of ingredients — flax seed — do any of the adults even know what flax seed is?  (Laughter.)  Cumin, and we have yellow miso paste that was included in one of the recipes — pretty sophisticated.

And you came up with some of the catchiest recipe names imaginable — one of my favorites, Mango-Cango Chicken.  Who is our Mango — where is our Mango-Cango young man?  There you are. Mango-Cango.  (Applause.)  We had Fizzle Sizzle Stir Fry.  Who created Fizzle Sizzle Stir Fry?  Where is our — there you go!  And then, Sam’s Southern Savoring Salmon Supreme — or S to the 5th power.  (Laughter.)  Sam, was that you?  (Applause.)  And so many more.  You guys have the menus.  We’re tasting just a few of them.  One is the Mic-Kale Obama Slaw — what is that?  I love that one.

And your reasons for creating these dishes were as varied as the ingredients, as Tanya said.  Some of you play sports and you realize that you need good nutrition to be able to compete.  As Hannah Betts — where’s Hannah?  Hannah, where are you?  Hannah!  This is what Hannah Betts, our winner from Connecticut, said — this is her quote — she said, “I do gymnastics and swimming, so I need food that is going to fill me up and give me lots of energy.”  Outstanding.

For some of you, cooking is a way to bond with your families and relive happy memories from when you were little.  And that’s why Felix Gonzalez — Felix, where are you?  There you go, there you go.  You told me this story in the photo line.  He’s from Puerto Rico.  He created his “Wrap it Up” chicken wrap — and this is his quote — he said, “I decided to make this dish as a wrap because I was thinking about the fun times when my dad wrapped me up as a burrito –(laughter)– with a blanket when I was a small child.”  Yeah, cool, dude.  Cool.  (Laughter.)

Some of you became interested in cooking because you were worried about your friends’ unhealthy eating habits.  Something that I try to work with my friends on all the time.  Now, Izzy Washburn from Kentucky actually did — this is Izzy — raise your hand.  Izzy right there.  She did a science experiment comparing school lunches to the lunches her friends brought from home, and the school lunches turned out to be healthier, according to your experiment.

And that wasn’t always the case.  We all know that we’ve seen some tremendous improvements in our school lunches over these years.  And it actually took a whole lot of work by people in your school cafeterias to actually accomplish this goal.

Back in 2010, based on some advice that we got from doctors and nutritionists and scientists in this country, we realized that we needed to improve the quality of school meals by adding fruits and veggies and whole grains.  And it required a lot — a little energy to make that happen, a little pushing back.  But right now, today, 95 percent of schools in this country are now meeting those new standards.  And that’s a wonderful achievement.  (Applause.)

So now tens of millions of kids are now getting better nutrition every single day.  Just like Abby pointed out, there are many kids who go to school and they don’t have breakfast, and breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  So you imagine, now the schools all over this country are providing that kind of nutrition so kids who might not get that nutrition at home are getting it at school.  This is an important step forward.  And I know you guys all agree because you understand the importance of healthy eating.

So I know that Izzy certainly believes so.  This is her quote — she said, “It’s important to teach my friends what good choices look like and how what fuel they choose for their bodies affects how they perform throughout their day.”  Very wise for such a little-bitty person.  (Laughter.)

And that’s why we created Let’s Move and started hosting these Kids’ State Dinners — because, as Abby said in her remarks, we want you guys to be ambassadors and to talk about healthy eating in your schools and in your communities.

So that’s really one of the things — one of the things you will do to pay for this opportunity is that you’re going to pay it forward, and hopefully when you go back, you’ll not only share this experience with your friends and family, but you’ll also talk about why we’re doing this.  Because a lot of kids don’t understand that food is fuel in a very fundamental way.  And sometimes they don’t listen to grown-ups, and they don’t listen to the First Lady.  But many of them will listen to you because you’re living proof of that reality.

So I want you to kind of think about how you can move this issue forward in your communities.  What more can you do when you get back home to continue this conversation and to engage more young people in the work that you all do.  That’s the only thing that I ask of you — and just to keep being the amazing, wonderful human beings that you are.

We developed this really cool — we worked with a PR firm to develop this really cool campaign for fruits and vegetables called FNV.  And it’s being piloted in certain parts of the country.  The idea behind the campaign is very simple:  If unhealthy foods can have all kinds of advertisements and celebrity endorsements, then why can’t we do that for fruits and vegetables?  Right?

So we’ve got Jessica Alba involved, and Colin Kaepernick, and Nick Jonas, and Steph Curry.  I just saw a full-page ad in a paper with Steph in a suit and a basketball, talking about the importance of veggies.  And so many other athletes and celebrities have signed up to show their support for fruits and vegetables.

And now we need you guys to sign up.  You can get involved in this campaign.  It involves T-shirts and fans and sweat bands, and there are things that you can do to be engaged — lot of fun.  All you have to do is go to FNV.com to check it out and figure out how you can join the FNV Team.  And you guys will be among the first ambassadors through FNV.  So, soon as you get out of here — don’t pull out any phones right now.  (Laughter.)  Go to FNV and check it out.  And then tell us what you think — because we want your feedback.

So really, there’s so many ways that you guys can be leaders in your communities and help us build a healthier country for generations to come.

And with your award-winning recipes, you’re already well on your way.  And I’m so proud of everything you all are doing.  The President is so proud of everything you all are doing.  And I just want you all to keep going, have fun.

And now we get to eat.  (Laughter.)  We get to try some of the — yes, we get to eat.  (Laughter.)  So bon appétit, everyone.  (Laughter.)  Let’s get going!  Let’s eat!  (Applause.)

Oh, wait!  Wait!  (The President enters.)  We have one more thing — (applause.)  I’m sorry.  I know you’re hungry, but I’d like to introduce to you guys the President of the United States.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Good to see you!  Hello, everybody!  How are you?  (Applause.)  So, everybody can have a seat.  Have a seat.

I’m sorry to crash your little party here.  (Laughter.)  But I just wanted to say hi to everybody.  And I wanted to let you know that, first of all, I’m very proud of everything that my outstanding wife has done — (applause) — when it comes to healthy eating and Let’s Move.  And we’re celebrating the fifth anniversary of Let’s Move.  So, you guys move?

AUDIENCE:  Yes!

THE PRESIDENT:  You guys are movers?  Okay.  You guys look pretty healthy, I got to admit.  This is a good-looking group.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  A good-looking group.

THE PRESIDENT:  And so I also just wanted to let you know that although I can’t stay and eat right now, that I’ve looked over the menu and the food looks outstanding.  I particularly am impressed with the Barackamole.  (Laughter.)  So I’m expecting people to save me a little sampling of the Barackamole.

I also noticed that there are a lot of good vegetables on the menu, including my favorite vegetable — broccoli.  (Laughter.)  Did somebody raise their hand?

MRS. OBAMA:  Well, I told these two that was your favorite vegetable.

THE PRESIDENT:  You didn’t believe me?  (Laughter.)  It’s true, I love broccoli.  I eat it all the time.  Anybody else love broccoli?

AUDIENCE:  Yes.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s what I’m talking about.  (Laughter.)

So I know that all your parents are so proud of you for having come up with these outstanding recipes.  And the reason it’s so important for you guys to be here and to be doing what you’re doing is because the truth is, is that parents, it turns out, don’t always have the most influence — (laughter) — in terms of encouraging young people to eat healthy.

What really helps is when their friends at school are all, like, oh, you’re having chips?  I’m sorry, I’m having the Barackamole.  (Laughter.)  And then, because you’re a cool kid, suddenly the other kids are all, like, well, if that cool kid is eating broccoli, maybe I should try that broccoli out.  So you guys are setting a great example for all your friends in school and in the neighborhoods, and we’re really proud of you for that.

All right?  So I’m proud of you.  And I hope you guys have a wonderful dinner.  And I’m going to come around and shake hands with people, but I can’t take selfies with everybody because I’ve actually got just a few other things to do.  (Laughter.)  So that would end up taking too long.  All right?  But you can take pictures while I’m shaking hands.  I just can’t, like, pose and — (laughter) — all that stuff.

Oops — that’s okay, I get nervous, too.  (Laughter.)  Whenever I’m at state dinners I’m always spilling stuff.  (Laughter.)  Usually on my tie.

Thank you, everybody.   (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Let’s eat!

THE PRESIDENT:  Let’s eat!  (Applause.)

END
12:12 P.M.

Full Text Obama Presidency July 1, 2015: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Remarks at Let’s Move Camp Out on the South Lawn

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

White House Girl Scout Campout

Girl Scouts join hands and sing “Taps” at the White House Campout, as part of the “Let’s Move! Outside” initiative, on the South Lawn of the White House, June 30, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Remarks by The First Lady at Let’s Move! Campout on The South Lawn

Source: WH, 6-30-15

South Lawn

4:36 P.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA:  Great job, Aniyah!  (Applause.)  Hey, guys.  You ready for this?

AUDIENCE:  Yes!

MRS. OBAMA:  We are so excited to have you here.  I’m not going to talk long because I really just wanted to formally welcome you to the White House.  There it is.  It’s right there. It is right there.  And you’re going to be sleeping out here.  Can you imagine that?  This is the first time we’ve ever done a campout on the South Lawn of the White House.  You are making history.  This is something you can tell your kids and your grandkids.  Do you understand the impact — (laughter) — the importance of this moment, today?

It’s exciting.  Well, you know who’s more excited than you all?  Me.  (Laughter.)  And everyone here at the White House.  I have to tell you, to make this happen it took a lot of work.  We have security.  The Secret Service had to be involved.  The Social Office, the Department of the Interior.  We couldn’t do this without them.  We’re so excited and so proud of Secretary Jewell, who couldn’t be here because she’s doing stuff for the President.  But she wanted to say hi.  And she put a lot of energy into making this day and night happen for you guys.

So I want to make sure you thank all the people around you while you’re here, all the staff people.  Because people are going to be sleeping out here with you, making sure that you’re safe and that everything goes well.  Okay?  So make sure you thank folks.  But everybody is excited to have you here.

We’re doing this because I am the honorary [National President] of the Girl Scouts.  I’m very proud to be the honorary co-chair.  And I am also very — a big proponent of getting outside and staying active.  You guys have heard of Let’s Move.  That’s my program about keeping kids active and healthy.  And one of the components of the program is something called Let’s Move Outside.  And this is something that we’re doing to encourage kids to get outside and get moving in their National Parks, because this is the 100th anniversary of our National Parks.  And we have so many beautiful parks all over this country that are free to families and kids, and they can hike and they can camp and they can discover the great outdoors.  We want people to find their parks all around.

And one of the reasons why we wanted you all here — did you know that the White House is a National Park?  You knew that?  You did your research?  Well, what better way to highlight Let’s Move Outside than to have the Girl Scouts camping out right here in a National Park at the White House.  Good idea, huh?

Well, I’m very proud of you all because you all get outside a lot.  You’re good campers.  And I’m happy that Kathy and the Girl Scouts — you’ve developed these new outdoor badges that you can earn, I understand.  All these things — hiking, and all these exciting outdoor things.  So you guys are going to teach me how to do some of these things, will you please?  I don’t know if I can officially earn a badge, but I want to try.  All right?

So I want to get going.  But you guys have got to be helpful.  I don’t know anything.  I don’t know how to tie a knot. I don’t know how to pitch a tent.  I can sing a little bit.  I’m definitely not climbing that wall.  (Laughter.)  That’s up to you all, okay?

So will you help me get moving and learn how to do some new stuff?  All right, let’s get going!  (Applause.)

END
4:40 P.M. EDT

Remarks by the President at Let’s Move Camp Out on the South Lawn

Source: WH, 6-30-15

South Lawn

8:35 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Why are you guys still up here?  (Laughter.) How’s it going?  So what’s been going on?  What have you guys been up to?

GIRLS:  Singing!

THE PRESIDENT:  You’re singing camp songs?

GIRLS:  Yes!

MRS. OBAMA:  Is that all you’ve been doing is singing — and why are you all dusty?  (Laughter.)  What game were you all playing?  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  So you’ve been singing.  What were you doing before you were singing?  You guys had dinner.

GIRLS:  Yes.

THE PRESIDENT:  You did some rock climbing?

GIRLS:  Yes!

THE PRESIDENT:  Where did you go rock climbing?  (Laughter.) There are no rocks over there.  What are you talking about?  (Laughter.)  So you guys been having fun?

GIRLS:  Yes!

THE PRESIDENT:  So most of you guys are going into 5th grade or 6th grade?

GIRLS:  Fifth.

THE PRESIDENT:  Going into 5th.  And so you guys are from a bunch of different troops, or —

GIRLS:  Yes.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, from all over the country?

GIRLS:  Yes.

THE PRESIDENT:  So you guys are making new friends.

GIRLS:  Yes.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s terrific.

MRS. OBAMA:  Look at their cool little chairs.

THE PRESIDENT:  They’re very nice chairs.

GIRL:  They roll back.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Can I just say back when I went camping my tents weren’t as nice.  (Laughter.)  And I didn’t have cool chairs like this.  (Laughter.)

GIRL:  Where did they come from?

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t know.  They just showed up.  (Laughter.)  I don’t know what you guys are doing here.  (Laughter.)

GIRL:  Camping on your lawn.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  You’re camping on my lawn.  I don’t know how that happened.

MRS. OBAMA:  They’re making history.

THE PRESIDENT:  I think the reason you guys are here is because we’re celebrating the Great Outdoors and the National Park Service is trying to make sure that young people get outside — so you guys aren’t watching TV all the time, or playing video games all the time, but you’re getting outside, getting some fresh air and spending time with your friends and having adventures.  And there are national parks all across the country, and it turns out that the White House is a national park.  (Applause.)  I didn’t know that.

MRS. OBAMA:  They knew.

THE PRESIDENT:  You guys knew.  Okay.  So you guys are helping to celebrate and kick off this whole Great Outdoors adventure that everybody is going to be having this summer, right?

GIRLS:  Yes!

THE PRESIDENT:  All right.  So I don’t really know any campfire songs.  Are you guys going to teach me one?

GIRLS:  Yes!

(The President and the First Lady sing along to campfire songs.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Did you see the First Lady rocking out a little bit?  (Laughter.)  She had the moves.

All right, well, you know what, you guys are having so much fun.  Unfortunately, I’ve got to go to work.

GIRLS:  Noooo —

THE PRESIDENT:  I am not allowed to have fun.  (Laughter.)

GIRL:  Can we have a hug?

THE PRESIDENT:  We can have a group hug.  (All the girls at once come running up for a group hug.)  Those are some good hugs! I didn’t know that Girl Scouts gave such good hugs.  (Laughter.) Who are those Girl Scouts over there? (pointing to the troop leaders.)  They look at least like they’re juniors.  (Laughter.)
I’m so glad you guys are having fun.  But I want to make sure — you guys better clean up this mess.  (Laughter.)  When I wake up in the morning — I’m teasing.  You guys aren’t going to be making a racket, are you?

GIRLS:  Yes!

THE PRESIDENT:  All right.  It was good to see you guys.  All right, have fun.

END
8:47 P.M. RDT

 

Full Text Obama Presidency June 30, 2015: Middle Class Economics Rewarding Hard Work by Restoring Overtime Pay

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

FACT SHEET: Middle Class Economics Rewarding Hard Work by Restoring Overtime Pay

Source: WH, 6-30-15

“Of course, nothing helps families make ends meet like higher wages…We still need to make sure employees get the overtime they’ve earned.”

– President Barack Obama, State of the Union Address, January 20, 2015

Middle class economics means that a hard day’s work should lead to a fair day’s pay.  For much of the past century, a cornerstone of that promise has been the 40-hour workweek.  But for decades, industry lobbyists have bottled up efforts to keep these rules up to date, leaving millions of Americans working long hours, and taking them away from their families without the overtime pay that they have earned. Business owners who treat their employees fairly are being undercut by competitors who don’t.

Today, President Obama announced that the Department of Labor will propose extending overtime pay to nearly 5 million workers. The proposal would guarantee overtime pay to most salaried workers earning less than an estimated $50,440 next year. The number of workers in each state who would be affected by this proposal can be found here.

The salary threshold guarantees overtime for most salaried workers who fall below it, but it is eroded by inflation every year.  It has only been updated once since the 1970s, when the Bush Administration published a weak rule with the strong support of industry.  Today, the salary threshold remains at $23,660 ($455 per week), which is below the poverty threshold for a family of four, and only 8 percent of full-time salaried workers fall below it.

Full Text Obama Presidency June 25, 2015: ConnectED: Two Years of Delivering Opportunity to K-12 Schools & Libraries

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

FACT SHEET: ConnectED: Two Years of Delivering Opportunity to K-12 Schools & Libraries

Source: WH, 6-25-15

Two years ago, President Obama announced the ConnectED Initiative, setting an ambitious goal to provide 99 percent of American students with access to next-generation broadband in their classrooms and libraries by 2018. Since that time, the public and private sectors have committed more than $10 billion of total funding and in-kind commitments as part of this five-year effort to transform American education. To leverage this technology, thousands of school and community leaders have pledged to help realize the President’s vision to move America’s schools into the digital age.

ConnectED is on track to achieve its goal of connecting students to tools they need for 21st century learning — and on its two year anniversary, we are announcing additional progress….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency June 24, 2015: President Barack Obama, White House shifts hostage policy

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

FACT SHEET: U.S. Government Hostage Policy

Source: WH, 6-24-15

Over the past decade, we have witnessed a significant shift in hostage-takings by terrorist organizations and criminal groups that has challenged the ability of the U.S. Government to secure the safe recovery of U.S. nationals taken captive.  The wanton and brutal murder of several Americans held hostage over the past year lays bare the magnitude of this challenge.  Other less publicized cases of Americans held hostage overseas, including several who remain in captivity, are no less tragic and have presented the U.S. Government with a similar set of difficult choices.  The Government’s response to hostage-takings must therefore evolve to account for this new reality.  Moreover, the Government’s handling of these hostage cases – and in particular its interaction and communication with families whose loved ones have been taken hostage – must improve.  To that end, in December 2014 President Obama directed a comprehensive review of U.S. policy toward overseas hostage-takings.

Based on the recommendations resulting from this review, the President approved Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 29, U.S. Nationals Taken Hostage Abroad and Personnel Recovery Efforts and issued an Executive Order on the recovery of U.S. hostages taken abroad, which directs key organizational changes to ensure that the U.S. Government is doing all that it can to safely recover Americans taken hostage overseas and is being responsive to the needs of their families.  The key findings and recommendations set forth by the review can be found in the Report on U.S. Hostage Policy at the following link.  PPD-29 and the Executive Order can be found on WhiteHouse.gov….READ MORE

Presidential Policy Directive — Hostage Recovery Activities

Source: WH, 6-24-15

DIRECTIVE/PPD-29

SUBJECT:      U.S. Nationals Taken Hostage Abroad and Personnel Recovery Efforts

The 21st century has witnessed a significant shift in hostagetakings by terrorist organizations and criminal groups abroad.  Hostage-takers frequently operate in unstable environments that challenge the ability of the United States Government and its partners and allies to operate effectively.  Increasingly, hostage-takers target private citizens — including journalists and aid workers — as well as Government officials.  They also utilize sophisticated networks and tactics to derive financial, propaganda, and recruitment benefits from hostage-taking operations.  The United States Government’s response to hostage-takings must evolve with this ever-changing landscape.

This Presidential Policy Directive (PPD), including its classified annex, supersedes and revokes NSPD-12, United States Citizens Taken Hostage Abroad, dated February 18, 2002, along with Annex 1 and Appendix A to NSPD-12, dated December 4, 2008.  The policy directs a renewed, more agile United States Government response to hostage-takings of U.S. nationals and other specified individuals abroad.  It establishes processes to enable consistent implementation of the policies set forth in this directive, to ensure close interagency coordination in order to employ all appropriate means to recover U.S. hostages held abroad, and to significantly enhance engagement with hostages’ families.  It also reaffirms the United States Government’s personnel recovery policy, which seeks to prevent, prepare for, and respond to hostage-takings and other circumstances in which U.S. nationals are isolated from friendly support.  This policy will thereby further important national security and foreign policy interests by strengthening the protections for U.S. nationals outside the United States….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency June 2, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Medal of Honor Presentation Sergeant William Shemin and Private Henry Johnson — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Presentation of the Medal of Honor

Source: WH, 6-2-15

President Obama Signs Medal of Honor Certificate and Citation

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

11:27 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  Please be seated.

Welcome to the White House.

Nearly 100 years ago, a 16-year-old kid from the Midwest named Frank Buckles headed to Europe’s Western Front.  An ambulance driver, he carried the wounded to safety.  He lived to see our troops ship off to another war in Europe.  And one in Korea.  Vietnam.  Iraq.  Afghanistan.  And Frank Buckles became a quietly powerful advocate for our veterans, and remained that way until he passed away four years ago — America’s last surviving veteran of World War I.

On the day Frank was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, Vice President Biden and I went to pay our respects.  And we weren’t alone.  Americans from across the country came out to express their gratitude as well.  They were of different ages, different races, some military, some not.  Most had never met Frank.  But all of them braved a cold winter’s day to offer a final tribute to a man with whom they shared a powerful conviction — that no one who serves our country should ever be forgotten.

We are a nation — a people — who remember our heroes.  We take seriously our responsibility to only send them when war is necessary.  We strive to care for them and their families when they come home.  We never forget their sacrifice.  And we believe that it’s never too late to say thank you.  That’s why we’re here this morning.

Today, America honors two of her sons who served in World War I, nearly a century ago.  These two soldiers were roughly the same age, dropped into the battlefields of France at roughly the same time.  They both risked their own lives to save the lives of others.  They both left us decades ago, before we could give them the full recognition that they deserved.  But it’s never too late to say thank you.  Today, we present America’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, to Private Henry Johnson and Sergeant William Shemin.

I want to begin by welcoming and thanking everyone who made this day possible — family, friends, admirers.  Some of you have worked for years to honor these heroes, to give them the honor they should have received a long time ago.  We are grateful that you never gave up.  We are appreciative of your efforts.

As a young man, Henry Johnson joined millions of other African-Americans on the Great Migration from the rural South to the industrial North — a people in search of a better life.  He landed in Albany, where he mixed sodas at a pharmacy, worked in a coal yard and as a porter at a train station.  And when the United States entered World War I, Henry enlisted.  He joined one of only a few units that he could:  the all-black 369th Infantry Regiment.  The Harlem Hellfighters.  And soon, he was headed overseas.

At the time, our military was segregated.  Most black soldiers served in labor battalions, not combat units.  But General Pershing sent the 369th to fight with the French Army, which accepted them as their own.  Quickly, the Hellfighters lived up to their name.  And in the early hours of May 15, 1918, Henry Johnson became a legend.

His battalion was in Northern France, tucked into a trench. Some slept — but he couldn’t.  Henry and another soldier, Needham Roberts, stood sentry along No Man’s Land.  In the pre-dawn, it was pitch black, and silent.  And then — a click — the sound of wire cutters.

A German raiding party — at least a dozen soldiers, maybe more — fired a hail of bullets.  Henry fired back until his rifle was empty.  Then he and Needham threw grenades.  Both of them were hit.  Needham lost consciousness.  Two enemy soldiers began to carry him away while another provided cover, firing at Henry.  But Henry refused to let them take his brother in arms.  He shoved another magazine into his rifle.  It jammed.  He turned the gun around and swung it at one of the enemy, knocking him down.  Then he grabbed the only weapon he had left — his Bolo knife — and went to rescue Needham.  Henry took down one enemy soldier, then the other.  The soldier he’d knocked down with his rifle recovered, and Henry was wounded again.  But armed with just his knife, Henry took him down, too.

And finally, reinforcements arrived and the last enemy soldier fled.  As the sun rose, the scale of what happened became clear.  In just a few minutes of fighting, two Americans had defeated an entire raiding party.  And Henry Johnson saved his fellow soldier from being taken prisoner.

Henry became one of our most famous soldiers of the war.  His picture was printed on recruitment posters and ads for Victory War Stamps.  Former President Teddy Roosevelt wrote that he was one of the bravest men in the war.  In 1919, Henry rode triumphantly in a victory parade.  Crowds lined Fifth Avenue for miles, cheering this American soldier.

Henry was one of the first Americans to receive France’s highest award for valor.  But his own nation didn’t award him anything –- not even the Purple Heart, though he had been wounded 21 times.  Nothing for his bravery, though he had saved a fellow solder at great risk to himself.  His injuries left him crippled. He couldn’t find work.  His marriage fell apart.  And in his early 30s, he passed away.

Now, America can’t change what happened to Henry Johnson.  We can’t change what happened to too many soldiers like him, who went uncelebrated because our nation judged them by the color of their skin and not the content of their character.  But we can do our best to make it right.  In 1996, President Clinton awarded Henry Johnson a Purple Heart.  And today, 97 years after his extraordinary acts of courage and selflessness, I’m proud to award him the Medal of Honor.

We are honored to be joined today by some very special guests –- veterans of Henry’s regiment, the 369th.  Thank you, to each of you, for your service.  And I would ask Command Sergeant Major Louis Wilson of the New York National Guard to come forward and accept this medal on Private Johnson’s behalf.  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  The President of the United States of America authorized buy Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Private Henry Johnson, United States Army.  Private Henry Johnson distinguished himself by extraordinary acts of heroism at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a member of Company C, 369th Infantry Regiment, 93rd Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Forces, on May 15, 1918, during combat operations against the enemy on the front lines of the Western Front in France.

In the early morning hours, Private Johnson and another soldier were on sentry duty at a forward outpost when they received a surprise attack from the German raiding party consisting of at least 12 soldiers.  While under intense enemy fire and despite receiving significant wounds, Private Johnson mounted a brave retaliation, resulting in several enemy casualties.  When his fellow soldier was badly wounded and being carried away by the enemy, Private Johnson exposed himself to great danger by advancing from his position to engage the two enemy captors in hand-to-hand combat.  Wielding only a knife and gravely wounded himself, Private Johnson continued fighting, defeating the two captors and rescuing the wounded soldier.  Displaying great courage, he continued to hold back the larger enemy force until the defeated enemy retreated, leaving behind a large cache of weapons and equipment and providing valuable intelligence.

Without Private Johnson’s quick actions and continued fighting, even in the face of almost certain death, the enemy might have succeeded in capturing prisoners in the outpost and abandoning valuable intelligence.  Private Johnson’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Company C, 369th Infantry Regiment, 93rd Infantry Division, and the United States Army.

(The Medal of Honor is presented.)  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Growing up in Bayonne, New Jersey, William Shemin loved sports — football, wrestling, boxing, swimming.  If it required physical and mental toughness, and it made your heart pump, your muscles ache, he was all in.  As a teenager, he even played semi-pro baseball.  So when America entered the war, and posters asked if he was tough enough, there was no question about it — he was going to serve.  Too young to enlist?  No problem.  He puffed his chest and lied about his age.  (Laughter.)  And that’s how William Shemin joined the 47th Infantry Regiment, 4th Division, and shipped out for France.

On August 7th, 1918, on the Western Front, the Allies were hunkered down in one trench, the Germans in another, separated by about 150 yards of open space — just a football field and a half.  But that open space was a bloodbath.  Soldier after soldier ventured out, and soldier after soldier was mowed down.  So those still in the trenches were left with a terrible choice: die trying to rescue your fellow soldier, or watch him die, knowing that part of you will die along with him.

William Shemin couldn’t stand to watch.  He ran out into the hell of No Man’s Land and dragged a wounded comrade to safety.  Then he did it again, and again.  Three times he raced through heavy machine gunfire.  Three times he carried his fellow soldiers to safety.

The battle stretched on for days.  Eventually, the platoon’s leadership broke down.  Too many officers had become casualties. So William stepped up and took command.  He reorganized the depleted squads.  Every time there was a lull in combat, he led rescues of the wounded.  As a lieutenant later described it, William was “cool, calm, intelligent, and personally utterly fearless.”  That young kid who lied about his age grew up fast in war.  And he received accolades for his valor, including the Distinguished Service Cross.

When he came home, William went to school for forestry and began a nursery business in the Bronx.  It was hard work, lots of physical labor — just like he liked it.  He married a red-head, blue-eyed woman named Bertha Schiffer, and they had three children who gave them 14 grandchildren.  He bought a house upstate, where the grandkids spent their summers swimming and riding horses.  He taught them how to salute.  He taught them the correct way to raise the flag every morning and lower and fold it every night.  He taught them how to be Americans.

William stayed in touch with his fellow veterans, too.  And when World War II came, William went and talked to the Army about signing up again.  By then, his war injuries had given him a terrible limp.  But he treated that limp just like he treated his age all those years ago — pay no attention to that, he said.  He knew how to build roads, he knew camouflage — maybe there was a place for him in this war, too.  To Bertha’s great relief, the Army said that the best thing William could do for his country was to keep running his business and take care of his family.  (Laughter.)

His daughter, Elsie — who’s here today with what seems like a platoon of Shemins — (laughter) — has a theory about what drove her father to serve.  He was the son of Russian immigrants, and he was devoted to his Jewish faith.  “His family lived through the pogroms,” she says.  “They saw towns destroyed and children killed.  And then they came to America.  And here they found a haven — a home — success — and my father and his sister both went to college.  All that, in one generation!  That’s what America meant to him.  And that’s why he’d do anything for this country.”

Well, Elsie, as much as America meant to your father, he means even more to America.  It takes our nation too long sometimes to say so — because Sergeant Shemin served at a time when the contributions and heroism of Jewish Americans in uniform were too often overlooked.  But William Shemin saved American lives.  He represented our nation with honor.   And so it is my privilege, on behalf of the American people, to make this right and finally award the Medal of Honor to Sergeant William Shemin. I want to invite his daughters — Elsie and Ina — 86 and 83, and gorgeous — (laughter) — to accept this medal on their father’s behalf.  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Sergeant William Shemin, United States Army.

Sergeant William Shemin distinguished himself by extraordinary acts of heroism at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a rifleman with G Company, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, 4th Division, American Expeditionary Forces, in connection with combat operations against an armed enemy on the Vesle River, near Bazoches, France from August 7th to August 9th, 1918.

Sergeant Shemin upon three different occasions left cover and crossed an open space of 150 yards, repeatedly exposing himself to heavy machine gun and rifle fire to rescue wounded.  After officers and seniors noncommissioned officers had become casualties, Sergeant Shemin took command of the platoon and displayed great initiative under fire until wounded on August 9th.

Sergeant Shemin’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself with G Company, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, 4th Division, American Expeditionary Forces, and the United States Army.

(The Medal of Honor is presented.) (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it has taken a long time for Henry Johnson and William Shemin to receive the recognition they deserve.  And there are surely others whose heroism is still unacknowledged and uncelebrated.  So we have work to do, as a nation, to make sure that all of our heroes’ stories are told.   And we’ll keep at it, no matter how long it takes.  America is the country we are today because of people like Henry and William — Americans who signed up to serve, and rose to meet their responsibilities — and then went beyond.  The least we can do is to say:  We know who you are.  We know what you did for us.  We are forever grateful.

May God bless the fallen of all of our wars.  May He watch over our veterans and their families and all those who serve today.  May God bless the United States of America.

With that, I’d ask the Chaplain to return to the podium for a benediction.

(The benediction is given.)

THE PRESIDENT:  With that, we conclude the formal ceremony.  But I welcome everybody to join in a wonderful reception.  And let’s give our Medal of Honor winners one big round of applause. (Applause.)

Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
11:48 A.M. EDT

Political Musings December 10, 2014: First Lady Michelle delivers Toys for Tots with Santa Obama as the big Elf

POLITICAL MUSINGS

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/pol_musings.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

First Lady Michelle delivers Toys for Tots with Santa Obama as the big Elf

By Bonnie K. Goodman

This year President Barack Obama joined his wife First Lady Michelle Obama, on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 10, 2014 to deliver and sort toys for the “Marine Corps’ annual Toys for Tots campaign” at the joint Base…READ MORE

News Headlines December 6, 2014: Prince William to meet Obama and Biden at White House while on US trip with Kate

NEWS HEADLINES

NewsHeadlines_Banner

THE HEADLINES….

Prince William to meet Obama and Biden at White House while on US trip with Kate

By Bonnie K. Goodman

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will have an audience with Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014 when Prince William comes to the White House and they will meet in the Oval Office…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency November 26, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the Pardoning of the National Turkey — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Pardons a Thanksgiving Turkey

Source: WH, 11-26-14

President Barack Obama, National Turkey Federation Chairman Gary Cooper; and son Cole Cooper participate in the annual National Thanksgiving Turkey pardon ceremony in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Nov. 26, 2014.President Barack Obama, National Turkey Federation Chairman Gary Cooper; and son Cole Cooper participate in the annual National Thanksgiving Turkey pardon ceremony in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Nov. 26, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Remarks by the President at Pardoning of the National Turkey

Source: WH, 11-26-14 

Cross Hall

2:32 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:Good afternoon, everybody.Please have a seat.Normally we do this outside.The weather is not cooperating today.But I want to, first of all, on behalf of Malia and Sasha, wish everybody an early Happy Thanksgiving.I am here to announce what I’m sure will be the most talked-about executive action this month.(Laughter.)Today, I’m taking an action fully within my legal authority — (laughter) — the same kind of action taken by Democrats and Republican presidents before me — to spare the lives of two turkeys, Mac and Cheese, from a terrible and delicious fate.(Laughter.)

I want to thank Joel Brandenberger, the president of the National Turkey Federation; Gary Cooper, its chairman; and his son Cole Cooper, who personally raised Mac and Cheese.Give them a big round of applause.(Applause.)Cole is keeping a pretty careful eye there on Cheese.(Laughter.)Uh-oh, he’s getting pretty excited about this.

Thanks to all those who voted online to pick the official National Thanksgiving Turkey.Cheese wants you to know that he won.(Laughter.)Mac, the alternate, is not so badly off either.Let’s face it — if you’re a turkey, and you’re named after a side dish — (laughter) — your chances of escaping Thanksgiving dinner are pretty low.So these guys are well ahead of the curve.They really beat the odds.

It is important to know that turkeys have always had powerful allies.Many of you know that Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country.He is a bird of bad moral character…the turkey is, in comparison, a much more respectable bird.”(Laughter.)I think these two turkeys would agree with Mr. Franklin.And they’ll get to live out the rest of their days, respectably, at a Virginia estate with 10,000 {sic} acres of roaming space.

I know some will call this amnesty — (laughter) — but don’t worry, there’s plenty of turkey to go around.(Laughter.) In fact, later this afternoon, Michelle, Malia and Sasha and I will take two turkeys that didn’t make the cut to a local food pantry that works hard year-round to make sure that folks in our Nation’s Capital have food to eat and clothes to wear.I want to thank Jaindl Turkey Farm in Pennsylvania for donating once again those birds for — it’s, in fact, been six years in a row that they’ve made these contributions — and for making Thanksgiving dinner possible for some of our fellow Americans.

Finally, The Washington Post recently questioned the wisdom of the whole turkey pardon tradition.“Typically on the day before Thanksgiving,” the story went, “the man who makes decisions about wars, virus outbreaks, terrorism cells and other dire matters of state, chooses to pardon a single turkey … plus an alternate.”

Tell me about it.It is a little puzzling that I do this every year.(Laughter.)But I will say that I enjoy it because with all the tough stuff that swirls around in this office, it’s nice once in a while just to say:Happy Thanksgiving.And this is a great excuse to do it.

Tomorrow is a pretty special moment when we give thanks for the people we love, and where we’re mindful of the incredible blessings that we have received.We remember the folks who can’t spend their holiday at home, especially the brave men and women in uniform who help keep our country secure.And we celebrate a holiday that, at its best, is about what makes this nation great — and that’s its generosity and its openness, and, as President Franklin Roosevelt once said, our commitment, “to make a country in which no one is left out.”

Now, because I know everyone wants to get out of town, Mac and Cheese included — (laughter) — it is time for me to engage in the official act.So let’s see what we can do here with Cheese.

Come on, girls.(Laughter.)All right, are we ready?Cheese, you are hereby pardoned from the Thanksgiving dinner table.(Laughter.)Congratulations.(Applause.)

He looks pretty happy about it.(Laughter.)All right, if you want to take Cheese down, that’s okay.(Laughter.)I will tell you, though, turkeys don’t have the best-looking heads.(Laughter.)You know what I’m saying?You think they’re beautiful?

MR. COOPER:I think they’re beautiful — they’re red, white and blue —

THE PRESIDENT:There’s a patriotism element to it.(Laughter.)Absolutely.(To Malia and Sasha) — Do you want to pet him?

MALIA:No.(Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:Thank you.Good to see you.Appreciate you.

Thank you, everybody.Happy Thanksgiving.(Applause.)

END
2:38 P.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency November 7, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Remarks Before Meeting with Congressional Leadership

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President Before Meeting with Congressional Leadership

Source: WH, 11-7-14 

Old Family Dining Room

12:52 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I want to thank the leadership of both the House and the Senate for being here for this lunch, post-election.  As I said the other night, obviously Republicans had a good night, and I’ve congratulated both Mitch McConnell as well as Speaker Boehner for running very strong campaigns.

As I also said the day after the election, what we’ve seen now for a number of cycles is that the American people just want to see work done here in Washington.  I think they’re frustrated by the gridlock.  They’d like to see more cooperation.  And I think all of us have the responsibility, me in particular, to try to make that happen.  And so this gives us a good opportunity to explore where we can make progress on behalf of the people who sent us here.

The good news is, today we saw another good set of jobs numbers.  We’ve now had 56 consecutive months of job growth; more than 10.6 million jobs have been created.  And the unemployment rate now is down to 5.8 percent.

So business is out there investing, hiring.  The economic indicators are going in the right direction.  As I travel to Asia for the G20 Summit, I’m going to be able to say that we’ve actually created more jobs here in the United States than every other advanced country combined.  And they notice that we’re doing something right here.  But what we also know is that the American people are still anxious about their futures, and that means that what we can do together to ensure that young people can afford college; what we can do together to rebuild our infrastructure so we’re competitive going forward; what we can do together to make sure that we’ve got a tax system that is fair and simple, and unleashes the dynamism of the economy; what we can do together to make sure that we keep the progress that we’ve been making in reducing the deficit while still making the investments we need to grow.

Those are all going to be areas where I’m very interested in hearing and sharing ideas.  And then the one thing that I’ve committed to both Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell is that I am not going to judge ideas based on whether they’re Democratic or Republican; I’m going to be judging them based whether or not they work.  And I’m confident that they want to produce results, as well, on behalf of the American people.

So I appreciate their graciousness in coming here.  And I’m very much looking forward to giving them some updates on progress we’ve been making on issues like Ebola and ISIL.  There’s going to be some specific work that has to get done during the next several weeks before the new Congress commences.  And my hope is, is that even as we enter into a new Congress, the previous Congress has the opportunity still to make progress on a whole bunch of fronts, and I’m confident we can get that done.

So thank you again.

Q    Have you made a decision on an Attorney General, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT:  You’re going to be the first to find out, Major, along with everybody else.

Thank you, everybody.

END
12:56 P.M. EST

Political Musings October 31, 2014: Obama celebrates Halloween with devilish cake, White House trick-or-treat party

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama along with First Lady Michelle Obama on Friday, Oct. 31, 2014 hosted trick-or-treaters at the White House, the treats however, were not as health conscious as the First Lady usually advocates. President Obama was so…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency August 4, 2014: Happy 53rd Birthday, President Obama!

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Happy 53rd Birthday, President Obama!

Today, President Obama is celebrating his 53rd birthday. In honor of the occasion, we put together our top 10 photos from the past year — because we thought that means more than our “top 53.”

Check out some of our favorites from the past year below:

1. Just hanging out.

Bo was just hanging out in the Outer Oval Office“Bo was just hanging out in the Outer Oval Office when the President walked in to begin his day. Each morning, the President always enters through this door rather than the direct outside door to the Oval Office.” November 6, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

 

Full Text Obama Presidency July 21, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Signing of Executive Order on LGBT Workplace Discrimination

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Signing of Executive Order on LGBT Workplace Discrimination

Source: WH, 7-21-14 

East Room

10:39 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Welcome to the White House, everybody.  I know I’m a little late.  But that’s okay because we’ve got some big business to do here.

Many of you have worked for a long time to see this day coming.  You organized, you spoke up, you signed petitions, you sent letters — I know because I got a lot of them.  (Laughter.) And now, thanks to your passionate advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of your cause, our government — government of the people, by the people, and for the people — will become just a little bit fairer.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Amen.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  It doesn’t make much sense, but today in America, millions of our fellow citizens wake up and go to work with the awareness that they could lose their job, not because of anything they do or fail to do, but because of who they are —  lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender.  And that’s wrong.  We’re here to do what we can to make it right — to bend that arc of justice just a little bit in a better direction.

In a few moments, I will sign an executive order that does two things.  First, the federal government already prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  Once I sign this order, the same will be explicitly true for gender identity.  (Applause.)

And second, we’re going to prohibit all companies that receive a contract from the federal government from discriminating against their LGBT employees.  (Applause.)    America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people.

Now, this executive order is part of a long bipartisan tradition.  President Roosevelt signed an order prohibiting racial discrimination in the national defense industry.  President Eisenhower strengthened it.  President Johnson expanded it.  Today, I’m going to expand it again.

Currently, 18 states have already banned workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  And over 200 cities and localities have done the same.  Governor Terry McAuliffe is here; his first act as governor was to prohibit discrimination against LGBT employees of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  (Applause.)  Where did Terry go?  Right back here.

I’ve appointed a record number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender public servants to positions across my administration.  They are ambassadors and federal judges, special assistants, senior advisors from the Pentagon to the Labor Department.  Every day, their talent is put to work on behalf of the American people.

Equality in the workplace is not only the right thing to do, it turns out to be good business.  That’s why a majority of Fortune 500 companies already have nondiscrimination policies in place.  It is not just about doing the right thing — it’s also about attracting and retaining the best talent.  And there are several business leaders who are here today who will attest to that.

And yet, despite all that, in too many states and in too many workplaces, simply being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can still be a fireable offense.  There are people here today who’ve lost their jobs for that reason.  This is not speculative, this is not a matter of political correctness — people lose their jobs as a consequence of this.  Their livelihoods are threatened, their families are threatened.  In fact, more states now allow same-sex marriage than prohibit discrimination against LGBT workers.  So I firmly believe that it’s time to address this injustice for every American.

Now, Congress has spent 40 years — four decades — considering legislation that would help solve the problem.  That’s a long time.  And yet they still haven’t gotten it done.  Senators Terry [Tammy] Baldwin and Jeff Merkley are here.  They have been champions of this issue for a long, long time.  We are very proud of them.  I know they will not stop fighting until fair treatment for all workers is the federal law of the land.  Everyone thanks them for that.  (Applause.)

But I’m going to do what I can, with the authority I have, to act.  The rest of you, of course, need to keep putting pressure on Congress to pass federal legislation that resolves this problem once and for all.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Amen!

THE PRESIDENT:  Amen.  Amen.  (Applause.)  Got the “amen” corner here.  (Laughter.)  Well — (sings) — (laughter.)  You don’t want to get me preaching, now.  (Laughter.)

For more than two centuries, we have strived, often at great cost, to form “a more perfect union” — to make sure that “we, the people” applies to all the people.  Many of us are only here because others fought to secure rights and opportunities for us. And we’ve got a responsibility to do the same for future generations.  We’ve got an obligation to make sure that the country we love remains a place where no matter who you are, or what you look like, or where you come from, or how you started out, or what your last name is, or who you love — no matter what, you can make it in this country.

That’s the story of America.  That’s the story of this movement.  I want to thank all of you for doing your part.  We’ve got a long way to go, but I hope as everybody looks around this room, you are reminded of the extraordinary progress that we have made not just in our lifetimes, but in the last five years.  In the last two years.  (Applause.)  In the last one year.  (Applause.)  We’re on the right side of history.

I’m going to sign this executive order.  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)

(The executive order is signed.)

END
10:47 A.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency July 4, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech at White House Fourth of July Celebration

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Fourth of July Celebration

Source: WH, 7-4-14

South Lawn

5:56 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Happy Fourth of July!  Welcome to the White House!

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thank you!

MRS. OBAMA:  You’re welcome!

THE PRESIDENT:  No, thank you.  (Laughter.)

Now, this little party is something we’ve been doing every year, because there’s no group that we’d rather spend time with on this most American of holidays than with you — the extraordinary men and women of America’s military.  And because of you, we’re safe, we’re free.  We depend on you for our way of life, and the sacrifices you make are extraordinary.

Now, in the house we’ve got Army.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Navy.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Air Force.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Marines.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Coast Guard.  (Applause.)  And, most important, we’ve got the incredible spouses and children —  give it up for our outstanding military families.  (Applause.)

To help us celebrate, we’ve got our outstanding Marine Band.  (Applause.)  Later on, we’re going to bring out Pitbull and his band.  (Applause.)  So we want to see if you like to party.  (Laughter.)  And, of course, this is always a special day for us because this is Malia’s birthday.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  She can get her license!

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, she’s going to get her license.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  She is.  She’s getting her license, but she has to practice a little bit before that happens.  (Laughter.)

Now, this is a gorgeous day.  We want you to enjoy yourselves, so I’m going to keep my remarks brief.  But it is important to remember why we’re here.

Two hundred and thirty-eight years ago, our founders came together and declared a new nation and a revolutionary idea –the belief that we are all created equal; that we’re free to govern ourselves; that each of us is entitled to life and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

And in the generations that have followed — through war and peace, through depression and prosperity — these truths have guided us as we have built the greatest democratic, economic, and military force the world has ever known.

So today, immigrants from around the world dream of coming to our shores.  Young people aspire to study at our universities.  Other nations look to us for support and leadership in times of disaster, and conflict, and uncertainty.  And when the world looks to America, so often they look to all of you –- the men and women of our Armed Forces.  Every day, at home and abroad, you’re working to uphold those ideals first declared in that Philadelphia hall more than two centuries ago.  Every day, you give meaning to that basic notion that as Americans we take care of each other.  And so today, we honor all of you.

And we salute some of the folks who are here with us on this balcony.  We salute our soldiers — like Chief Warrant Officer Tom Oroho, who has served this nation in uniform for 27 years, including deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Two summers ago, Tom was at the beach, saw a young girl and her father who had been swept out to sea, and jumped into dangerous riptide and pulled them back to safety.  That’s the kind of service we expect from our outstanding soldiers.  Please give it up for Tom.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

We salute our sailors — like Seaman Reverlie Thomas, who came to America 21 years ago from Trinidad.  She served a tour in the Persian Gulf for the Navy.  Just a few hours ago here at the White House, I was proud to welcome Seaman Thomas and 24 other servicemembers and military spouses as our newest American citizens.  Thank you Reverlie, and congratulations.  (Applause.)

We salute our airmen — like Technical Sergeant Cheryl Uylaki, who manages the Fisher House at Dover Air Force Base, ensuring the families of our fallen are always provided comfort and care worthy of their profound sacrifice.  We’re so grateful to you, Cheryl, for your great work.  (Applause.)

We salute our Marines — like Sergeant Isaac Gallegos, who was severely wounded after an IED explosion in Iraq eight years ago.  He suffered burns on almost every inch of his face.  He was pronounced dead three separate times.  Undergone 161 surgeries.  But he is here standing with us today, pursuing a Master’s degree, working full-time for the Navy.  That’s what we’re talking about when we talk about Marines.  Give it up for Isaac.  (Applause.)

We salute our Coasties — like Lieutenant Commander Sean Plankey, who helped lead a cyber team in Afghanistan that supported our troops during firefights and helped prevent the detonation of remote-controlled IEDs, saving countless lives.  So thank you, Sean.  (Applause.)

And we salute our military families — the spouses who put their careers on hold for their loved ones; the children who pick up extra chores while Mom or Dad is deployed; the siblings and parents and extended family members who serve the country every single day.  You’re the reason Michelle and Jill Biden started the Joining Forces initiative — to make sure America is supporting you, too.  And today we honor your service here today.  (Applause.)

So as we pause on this Fourth of July to celebrate what makes us American, we salute all of you whose service and sacrifice renews that promise of America every single day.  On behalf of the entire country, Michelle and I simply want to say thank you to all of you for your courage and your strength, and your unending service to this nation.

Happy Fourth of July, everybody.  Have a great party.  Have a hotdog.  Have a hamburger.  We want to see you dancing.  God bless you all, and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

END
6:05 P.M. EDT

Political Musings April 30, 2014: Levin, Democrats push Boehner for unemployment benefits extension House vote

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Levin, Democrats push Boehner for unemployment benefits extension House vote

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Although Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-OH refuses to put the Senate passed unemployment benefits extension bill to a House vote, it is not stopping Democrats in the House of Representatives to try and push the speaker on…READ MORE

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Political Musings April 23, 2014: White House refuses Boehner, GOP unemployment benefits extension bill compromise

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

 

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