Obama thanks service members, families at CINC Inaugural Ball
January 22, 2013
By J.D. Leipold
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Jan. 22, 2013) -- During the Commander-in-Chief's Inaugural Ball, Jan. 21, in Washington, D.C., some 4,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen gathered to help President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama celebrate the start of his second term.
As Obama walked past the curtain onto the stage and to the lectern shortly before 9 p.m., service members in the ballroom erupted into a deafening ovation. Attendees held their cell phones and cameras high in the air in order to capture the moment.
The president opened with, "Let me begin by just saying you all dress up pretty nice," which got the crowd applauding louder.
The president thanked military families, Gold Star families, wounded warriors, Tuskegee Airmen, and Medal of Honor recipients in attendance by saying "this little party" was just a small way to say thank you.
"Thank you for volunteering. Thank you for stepping up. Thank you for keeping us strong, for always making us proud," he said. "It's because of you that with honor we were able to end the way in Iraq. Because of you that we delivered justice to Osama bin Laden. Because of you it's even possible to give Afghans a chance to determine their own destiny."
Obama also spoke to service members in Afghanistan via live video conference, and then introduced his "better half" and dance partner, first lady Michelle Obama. The two walked out onto the stage, amid applause, for the first dance of his second term. Musician Jennifer Hudson sang, "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green.
Afterward, the president danced with Air Force Staff Sgt. Bria Nelson, while the first lady danced with Marine Gunnery Sgt. Timothy D. Easterling.
Later in the evening, Vice President Joe Biden took the stage. Via teleconference, the vice president thanked troops stationed in Korea. He also thanked the service members and their families who attended the ball.
"You are the heart and soul of this nation; the finest warriors the world has ever seen, and that's not an exaggeration," Biden said, his voice booming out across the ballroom.
The vice president recalled how on many of his trips abroad he has met service members who have served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We have never, ever asked so much of a generation," he said.
After Biden danced with his wife to "I Can't Stop Loving You," performed by Jamie Foxx, he danced with Staff Sgt. Keesha N. Dentino. Jill Biden, Ph.D., danced with Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Figueroa.
Alicia Keys, Brad Paisley, Chris Cornell and Marc Anthony also performed.