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 Severe weather in Illinois causes speech to be moved to Joint Base Andrews
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President Obama's Memorial Day Speech
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- President Barack Obama shakes hands with troops and family members after his Memorial Day speech inside the Tactical Fitness Center here May 31, 2010. The President's speech was originally scheduled to take place at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Ill., but was moved to Andrews due to severe weather. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Melissa V. Brownstein)
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Andrews hosts presidential Memorial Day speech

Posted 6/1/2010   Updated 6/1/2010 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Alexy Saltekoff
316th Wing public affairs

6/1/2010 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- President Barack Obama spoke to a small crowd of military members and their families May 31 in the Tactical Fitness Center on Joint Base Andrews.

The speech had been scheduled to take place at Abraham Lincoln National Memorial in Elwood, Ill., but was canceled due to severe weather.

Rather than cancel the speech entirely, members of the 316th Wing, Air Force District of Washington, U.S. Secret Service and the White House worked quickly to move the event to Andrews while the president was flying back to D.C. A podium, lights and flags were brought in to the Tactical Fitness Center, which normally houses only fitness equipment. 316th Security Forces Squadron members and USSS agents secured the facility and its perimeter and screened nearly 100 personnel who came to listen to the speech.

Nearly three hours after being asked to host the speech, the stage at Andrews was set and the crowd was in place as the president entered the fitness center to cheers and applause.

After thanking Col. Steven M. Shepro, 316 WG/Joint Base Andrews commander, and Maj. Gen. Darrell Jones, Air Force District of Washington commander, and their families, President Obama delivered his speech on the importance of Memorial Day and the reason for the quick change of venue.

"While the storm was raging outside, I was fortunate to meet with some of the families, friends and veterans who had come to honor loved ones who had given their lives in service of this nation," President Obama said. "Later, I was privileged to visit with families of our wounded warriors as they battle to recover from the wounds of war. And I want to stop by here because I fly in all the time but sometimes don't get a chance to meet so many of you individually, to say thank you for your service, and recognize that long chain of valor and service that you are a part of."

"The families that I met with know in their hearts what every American must never forget," the president said. "At its core, the nobility and the majesty of Memorial Day can be found in the story of ordinary Americans who become extraordinary for the most simple of reasons: They loved their country so deeply, so profoundly, that they were willing to give their lives to keep it safe and free."

"On this day of remembrance, I say to every American the legacy of these fallen soldiers, these fallen heroes, lives on in each of us. The security that lets us live in peace, the prosperity that allows us to pursue our dreams, the freedom that we cherish these were earned by the blood and the sacrifice of patriots who went before. And now it falls on us to preserve that inheritance for all who follow."

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