Obama visits Arlington Cemetery, then heads to church
Barack Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery Sunday before heading off to church with his family.
The Obamas attended services at the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, which in the mysterious ways of Washington is located on 16th Street about 4 miles north of the White House.
Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden started their day with a visit to the Tomb of the Unknowns. Streets near Blair House, where the Obamas are staying, and near the cemetery were lined with waving people.
In a blustery chill under gray skies, Obama and Biden, dressed in long black coats, placed the wreath in front of the tomb and then listened in silence, hands over hearts, as “Taps” was played.
Obama, his wife Michelle, two daughters and mother-in-law attended services at the Nineteenth Street church.
Parishioners seemed to be aware the president-elect would be attending. The sanctuary, which members said is usually only a third full, was packed.
The church was singing an opening song when the Obama family walked in. The congregation stood and applauded as they proceeded down the aisle behind the Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins, shaking hands and waving to people as they went.
The Obama family sat in the second row near the altar. Daughter Sasha produced a camera and apparently got off a snap of sister Malia before their grandmother, Marian Robinson, confiscated the device.
Speaking from the podium, Harkins told Obama, “Perhaps, just perhaps, you are where you are for just such a time.”
“It’s fair to say that it was the votes of the people who placed you” in office, Harkins said, “but it will be God who sustains you. ”
“God has prepared you and placed you. God will not forsake you.”
Joshua DuBois, Obama’s religious affairs director, said the president-elect planned to attend many other churches in the District and “will choose a church home at a time that is best for their family.”
Nineteenth Street Baptist Church is the oldest and among the most historic African American churches in Washington. It was located on 19th and I streets for 135 years before moving to its current location on 16th Street.
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Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Top: Obama and Biden at Arlington National Cemetery on Sunday; Bottom: Obama’s limousine drives through Arlington Cemetery)