Saturday, January 19, 2013

President Obama & First Lady Kick Off Inaugural Weekend With Community Service Project

President urges public service, pays tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr....
President Obama and the First Family rolled up their sleeves on Saturday morning to kick off the 57th Presidential Inaugural with a community service project at Burrville Elementary School in Northeast D.C.  The President and First Lady Obama, accompanied by daughters Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11, spent about an hour helping spruce up the school with about 500 other volunteers, according to the White House. The event was organized by City Year, which places volunteers for a year of service in the nation's schools.

President Obama wore gray trousers and a blue button down as he stained a five-tier bookshelf, joined by Mrs. Obama, who was clad in a bright purple top with a geometric print, and black leggings tucked into tall black boots. 

The First Couple wore clear plastic gloves as they wielded their paintbrushes, accompanied by Sheri Fisher, a City Year employee, and Executive Director Jeff Franco.  The school was a hive of activity, with power tools heard in the background.

"Michelle says I did a fine job" staining the bookshelf, the President announced to a crowd of about 300 cheering volunteers in the school's gym after he was done with his project.

The event  was part of the National Day of Service, created ahead of Mr. Obama's first inaugural to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and the President loosely quoted the civil rights icon.

"I'm always reminded that he said everybody wants to be first, everybody wants to be a drum major," President Obama said.  "But if you're going to be a drum major be a drum major for service, be a drum major for justice, be a drum major for looking out for other people."

On Monday at the Capitol, the President will take the oath of office using Dr. King's "traveling" Bible, and a Bible used by President Abraham Lincoln.

"This inauguration is going to be, is a symbol of how our democracy works...but it should also be an affirmation that we're all in this together," President Obama said.

The President also gave a shout out to City Year, earning him more cheers.

"There's a huge hunger on the part of young people to get involved, and to get engaged," President Obama.  "This is what America is really about, this is what we celebrate."

The First Lady also spoke to the crowd.

"This is a weekend of celebration but through it all we have to remember that the reason why we're because a lot of people worked hard and supported us," Mrs. Obama said. "And we've got a job to do."

"We've got a lot of young people...we're passing the baton to you all."

The President and Mrs. Obama shook hands with the volunteers before heading back to the White House.  They arrived at the school by motorcade at 11:48 --in an SUV newly sporting plates reading "No Taxation Without Representation," a nod to the District's ongoing status as a pseudo-state that has no Congressional representation, but more than 600,000 residents.

On Saturday evening, Mrs. Obama will host the Kids' Inaugural Concert at the Walter. E. Washington Convention Center.  President Obama has no further public events scheduled for Saturday.  On Sunday, he will be sworn in during a small ceremony at the White House.

On Saturday morning Vice President Joe Biden and his family also participated in a service project at the DC Armory, helping pack care kits for servicemen and women.  Members of the President's Cabinet also fanned out across the District to participate in events.

Former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton, honorary co-chair of the National Day of Service, kicked off the festivities on the National Mall.


The menu and recipes for the President's Inaugural Luncheon ARE HERE

*Top two photos by Pete Souza/White House; thrid by @ObamaInaugural; fourth by AP/pool