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Posted at 5:46 PM ET, 01/17/2011

First family continues tradition of service on King holiday

By Hamil R. Harris

President Obama, along with others, sings "Happy Birthday" to First Lady Michelle Obama as their daughters Malia, right, and Sasha look on as they arrive to take part in a community service project at Stuart-Hobson Middle School in celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. day of service in Northeast Washington on Monday. (By Jewel Samad/ AFP/Getty Images)

President Obama and the first family spent part of the King holiday painting images of fresh fruit on the cafeteria pillars of the Stuart-Hobson Middle School in Northeast Washington to remind the country that King's legacy went far beyond calling for social justice.

"Dr. King obviously had a dream of justice and equality in our society, but he also had a dream of service, that you could be a drum major for service, that you could lead by giving back to our communities."

On the eve of his inauguration and for the past two years, Obama and his family have spent the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday involved in service projects. "This is how we celebrate, is making sure that we're giving a little something back to the community."

While rendering acts of service has become a family tradition for the president, the event also helped his family get through a week where he and first lady Michelle Obama traveled to Tucson to help honor the families of the mass shooting.

"After a painful week where so many of us were focused on tragedy, it's good for us to remind ourselves what this country is all about," the president said. "This kind of service project is what's best in us, and we're thrilled with everybody who is participating."

On Sunday, the president and his family attended services at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, and unlike last year, when he delivered a five-page speech at another D.C. church, he remained quietly in the pews and listened with his family.

By Hamil R. Harris  | January 17, 2011; 5:46 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama  
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On this occasion of the Martin Luther King Day of Service, one thing that should be done to honor Dr. King's legacy is ensuring that the Pentagon spend an adequate amount of money to recover the remains of our World War II missing in action, many of whom were African-Americans, such as the following MIA Tuskegee Airmen (courtesy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch): Lt. Albert L. Young, F/O Carl J. Woods, Lt. William F. Williams Jr., Lt.Sherman H. White Jr., Lt. James R. Polkinghorne, F/O Leland H. Pennington, Lt. Andrew D. Marshall, Captain Andrew Maples Jr., Lt. Oscar D. Hutton Jr., Lt. Wellington G. Irving, Lt. Fred L. Brewer Jr., Lt. John H. Chavis, Capt. Alfonzo W. Davis, Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson, Lt. Maurice V. Esters, Lt. Samuel J. Foreman, Lt. Frederick D. Funderburg Jr., Lt. Samuel Jefferson, Lt. Charles B. Johnson, and Lt. Samuel G. Leftenant. The Defense Department has historically treated its MIA remains recovery program like a neglected stepchild, requesting a level of funding that is nowhere near the amount needed to recover the remains of the tens of thousands still missing. Please support substantially increased funding for location and recovery of the remains of our heroic missing Tuskegee Airmen, and all the other missing soldiers, sailors, and airmen. Their families deserve nothing less. As President Obama has said, "Each year, specialists in our Department of Defense scour foreign battlefields and burial sites, interview witnesses, and search national and international archives for information about those missing from the Vietnam War, Korean War, Cold War, World War II, and other conflicts. Their work will not be complete, nor our commitment fulfilled, until the families of those taken or missing in action can rest knowing the fate of their loved ones."

Gary Zaetz

Project Homecoming volunteer

Posted by: GaryZaetz | January 17, 2011 10:50 PM | Report abuse

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