Tales from the Trail

Obama walks in rain-soaked cemetery of U.S. war dead

President Barack Obama walked in the rain among the graves of U.S. casualties from the Iraq and Afghan wars at Arlington National Cemetery and took an unscheduled detour into section 60, a thicket of simple white headstones, to mark Veterans Day. OBAMA/

Underscoring the poignancy of the visit, Obama was due to hold a war council later on Wednesday as he tries to decide whether to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan, where U.S. forces experienced their bloodiest month in October.

The president, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, bent down briefly at the headstone of 19-year-old Specialist Ross McGinnis, who was awarded the United States’ highest military decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor.

McGinnis was killed when he threw himself onto a grenade during a patrol in Baghdad in  2006.

The first couple, bareheaded and ignoring the miserable weather, spoke and shook hands with visitors they found by the gravesides, one of whom Michelle Obama hugged.

Visitors drawn to new Kennedy gravesite

Hundreds of people  lined up at  Arlington National Cemetery Sunday to visit the grave site of  Edward Kennedy a day after the long-time senator from Massachusetts was laid to rest in a private service.

A simple cross and a memorial tablet mark the gravesite, near those of  the late senator’s brothers,  Senator Robert Kennedy and President John F. Kennedy.  On Sunday, small bouquets of flowers were placed on the ground nearby.

Edward Kennedy died last week, at age 77, after a year-long battle with brain cancer.

Senator Kennedy’s final resting spot

KENNEDY/Senator Edward Kennedy will be buried on Saturday near his brothers, former President John F. Kennedy and former Senator Robert F. Kennedy, at Arlington National Cemetery.

The site is about 200 feet south of the eternal flame that marks John Kennedy’s grave, a popular tourist draw directly across the river from Washington.

Robert Kennedy’s gravesite, marked by a simple white wooden cross, lies about 95 feet away.

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. 
 
USA-OBAMA/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. ”