U.S. july41Independence Day was an “all-service” holiday at the White House this year as President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama welcomed about 1,200 people — men and women from all of the branches of the U.S. military and family members.

“This is the day when we celebrate the very essence of America and the spirit that has defined us as a people and as a nation for more than two centuries,” Obama said in a greeting from a White House balcony draped in red, white and blue bunting.
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Obama said was that he couldn’t think of a better way to spend the Fourth of July than with men and women in uniform. But he said he was glad to see most weren’t in uniform, given the stifling heat. But he pointed to one service member on the balcony who was decked out in a black suit because his grandmother insisted he dress up.
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Obama gave a shout-out to an individual member of each branch of the services, including a soldier who did 150 missions in Iraq after being seriously wounded. The U.S. Marine Band provided the music (patriotic favorites, according to the White House pool report).

After feasting on hot dogs, burgers and other barbeque, the White House guests had some of the best seats in the city for a spectacular fireworks display that capped Washington’s Fourth of July celebration.

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Photo Credits: REUTERS/Mike Theiler (Obama greets members of military families; Obama and first lady welcome guests to Independence Day barbeque; U.S. Marine Corps Band); REUTERS//Hyungwon Kang (Fireworks explode near White House in celebration of Independence Day in Washington)