Tales from the Trail

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. ”

USA-OBAMA/“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.
 
For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Top: Obama and Biden at Arlington National Cemetery on Sunday; Bottom: Obama’s limousine drives through Arlington Cemetery)

Obamas narrow choices on family dog

USA/WASHINGTON – U.S. President-elect Barack Obama says his family’s decision about a family dog has been more difficult than choosing a new Commerce secretary, but he, his wife and daughters are getting closer to a decision.
 
“We’re closing in on it,” Obama said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”. He said his daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, had decided they wanted a medium-sized dog and were looking closely at a labradoodle or a Portuguese water hound.
 
Obama also said the girls wanted a shelter dog.
 
The president-elect promised his daughters during the campaign that whether he won or lost the election, he would grant their wish for a dog.
 
Their choices of dog breeds are limited because they need to pick one that is hypoallergenic because of Malia’s allergies.
 
“This has been tougher than finding a Commerce secretary,” Obama said. His initial pick for that post, Bill Richardson, withdrew from consideration saying a legal inquiry in his home state would have complicated his Senate confirmation for the job.
 
The Obamas, who are staying at the posh Hay-Adams hotel across from the White House and will move into the executive mansion in just over a week, are also looking at local Washington churches.
 
The Obamas used to attend the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, but left after a controversy developed over controversial comments by Trinity’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
 
“One of the things that Michelle and I will be doing is probably visiting some churches and seeing what’s comfortable,” Obama said.
 
“It is tougher as president,” adding that visiting churches can be difficult because of security involved when he goes anywhere within Washington.
 
“You don’t want to subject your fellow church members, the rest of the congregation, to being magged (walking through metal detectors) every time you go to church. And so, we’re going to try to be balancing, not being disruptive to the city, but also saying we want to be part of Washington D.C.,” Obama said.

For more Reuters political news, click here.

- Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Obama family visits the Lincoln Memorial on Jan. 10.)

Can Obama remain “churchless?”

obama.jpgHOUSTON – Barack Obama is a man without a church.

The Illinois Senator and likely Democratic Party nominee for the November presidential election against Republican John McCain said on Saturday he had quit his Chicago church in the aftermath of inflammatory sermons that could become a political lightning rod.

Obama, who would be the first black U.S. president, cut ties last month with the former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, Jeremiah Wright, who angered many with anti-American and racially charged sermons.

Just as controversy over Wright had died down, a Roman Catholic priest mocked Obama’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton during a guest appearance at Trinity United in ways sure to cause offense to some.