Office of Public Engagement

Celebrating U.S. Troops, Congress To-Do List, and Returning to Joplin: Deputies' Download

President Obama Celebrates U.S. Troops on Memorial Day

On Monday morning, President Obama visited Arlington National Cemetery, where he placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and highlighted the connection shared by each of the heroes who rest at the site. In the afternoon, he visited the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC to commemorate the 50th anniversary of that conflict and to celebrate those who served. The President said:

[We] come to this wall -- to this sacred place -- to remember. We can step towards its granite wall and reach out, touch a name. Today is Memorial Day, when we recall all those who gave everything in the darkness of war so we could stand here in the glory of spring. And today begins the 50th commemoration of our war in Vietnam. We honor each of those names etched in stone -- 58,282 American patriots. We salute all who served with them. And we stand with the families who love them still.

At both events, the President noted another reason for celebration -- for the first time in nine years, there are no U.S. troops fighting in Iraq.

President Obama participates in a Memorial Day wreath laying at Arlington National Cemetery (May 28, 2012)

President Barack Obama, with Major General Michael Linnington, Commanding General Military District of Washington, participates in a Memorial Day wreath laying at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, May 28, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Also on Monday, as part of the Joining Forces initiative to honor, recognize and serve military families, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama met with the U.S. Navy’s first contingent of women submariners to be assigned to the Navy’s operational submarine force. In 2009, U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced that for the first time in Navy history, women would be assigned to the submarine force. The 24 women who met with the President and First Lady today were accepted into the Navy’s nuclear submarine program after completing an intensive training program. They are serving on ballistic and guided missile submarines throughout the Navy. As part of the visit to the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama accepted Secretary Ray Mabus’ invitation to serve as the sponsor of the future USS Illinois (SSN 786). Illinois is a Virginia-class submarine, the Navy’s newest class of attack submarine, and is being built in Groton, Connecticut and Newport News, Virginia. Illinois is expected to join the fleet in late 2015. As sponsor, the First Lady will establish a special link to Illinois, her Sailors, and their families that extends throughout the life of the submarine.  A photograph of the President, First Lady, Defense Secretary Panetta, Secretary Mabus and the women submariners can be found here.

President Obama’s “To-Do List” for Congress

President Barack Obama at TPI Composites Iowa’s wind turbine blade facility (May 24, 2012)

President Barack Obama delivers remarks urging Congress to act on the “To Do List” and highlighting the need to invest in clean energy by passing legislation, at TPI Composites Iowa’s wind turbine blade facility in Newton, Iowa, May 24, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

In Iowa last Thursday, President Obama continued to press lawmakers to take action on his To-Do List for Congress. He traveled to Newton to push for the renewal of a tax credit for companies that produce clean energy. The credit currently supports as many as 37,000 jobs. His host for the visit was TPI Composites -- a company that makes blades for wind turbines and employs more 700 people. “If Congress doesn’t act, companies like this one will take a hit,” he said. “Jobs will be lost. That’s not a guess, that’s a fact. We can’t let that happen.”

Later, the President answered questions about the To-Do List on Twitter.

The proposals on the President’s To-Do List are important steps that Congress can take right now to create jobs. It’s time for Congress to act. Check out the full To-Do List, then join the conversation and make your voice heard with the hashtag #CongressToDoList.

President Obama Returns to Joplin

Speaking last week to the first group of students to graduate from Joplin High School since a tornado ripped through the Missouri city one year ago, President Obama praised the resilience of its community. “No matter how we might try to avoid it, life surely can bring some heartache, and life involves struggle. And at some point life will bring loss,” he said. “But here in Joplin, you’ve also learned that we have the power to grow from these experiences. We can define our lives not by what happens to us, but by how we respond.”

In the year since the storm, more than 126,800 individuals put in some 755,300 hours of community service in the Joplin area. Their efforts in everything from clean-up and repairs to home construction represent more than 82 years of community service. To learn more about the effort to rebuild Joplin, go to whitehouse.gov/joplin.

Blog Highlights

White House Champions of Change Program

On Thursday, May 24th, the White House honored eleven individuals within the veterans’ community, especially those who served in Vietnam, who are Champions of Change. These individuals have shown continued support for efforts to end veterans’ homelessness, boost veterans’ employment, treat problems with substance abuse, and develop treatment programs for those dealing with PTSD.

The Champions of Change series spotlights everyday heroes who are demonstrating a commitment to improving their own communities, their country, or the lives of their fellow citizens. We are looking for you to nominate someone who is doing extraordinary things to make a difference in your community as a “Champion of Change.”

Get Involved

Interest rates on new subsidized student loans are scheduled to double on July 1. If Congress doesn’t act to prevent this, more than 7 million students around the country will rack up an average of $1,000 of extra debt. President Obama knows that’s not acceptable. Raise your voice and reach out to your networks if you agree that student loan rates should not double on July 1. On Twitter and Google+, use the hashtag #DontDoubleMyRate; on Facebook, update your status and profile image. Learn more about the President’s proposal and read about the impact higher interest rates would have on the AAPI, Native American, Hispanic, and African American communities.

For more information about ways to get involved, check out the Office of Public Engagement’s blog, which is updated regularly with upcoming engagement opportunities. Be sure to participate in the online conversation by following @JonCarson44.

Get Updates

For more information, visit the White House Office of Public Engagement website and blog and sign up for additional opportunities.

We welcome your thoughts and feedback at public@who.eop.gov

Anne Filipic and Stephanie Valencia are Deputy Directors in the Office of Public Engagement.

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