By Jueseppi B.
In this week’s address, President Obama commemorates Memorial Day by paying tribute to the men and women in uniform who have given their lives in service to our country.
On Memorial Day, we honor and remember the men and women who gave their lives in service of our country. And while our commitment to those who serve and their families remains important every day, Memorial Day is the perfect time to offer a simple act of kindness to our veterans and military families. You can send a message of thanks to our troops or a military family. Or pledge hours of service. Or even start your own volunteer project. And afterward, please share your story — tell us how you made a difference in your community in support of military families.
On Memorial Day 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden launched Joining Forces to recognize, honor and serve our nation’s veterans and military families. Joining Forces focuses on three key areas — employment, education and wellness — while raising awareness about the service, sacrifice and needs of our troops, veterans and their families. Learn more about the work Joining Forces is doing.
Connecticut Leads the Way on Protecting Children
At a town hall meeting today on school safety at the Classical Magnet School in Hartford, I got to hear firsthand how Connecticut is leading the nation in adopting common-sense solutions to reduce gun violence and improve school safety.
In the aftermath of the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School last December, the courage and resilience of teachers, parents, children, and communities in the Newtown area has been nothing short of remarkable.
From Governor Dannel Malloy to state lawmakers to the members of the Sandy Hook Promise, the entire state worked together to pass comprehensive legislation to reduce gun violence.
Unlike here in Washington, Connecticut’s lawmakers didn’t defend the status quo or shrink from tackling difficult questions. With bipartisan support, they enacted a comprehensive law to help curb gun violence and mass shootings that does not infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves and hunt.
Connecticut’s leaders have set an example of political courage that can teach a lot to Congress and the rest of the nation. At today’s town hall meeting, Governor Malloy talked about how he decided to press ahead for new gun violence prevention measures, despite fierce attacks from the NRA.
By contrast, in Washington, Congress has so far failed to take the sensible step of expanding the background check system to close loopholes that allow criminals and the mentally ill to buy guns.
Those loopholes make no sense—and 90 percent of the public backs expanding background checks. I hope that Congress soon takes up universal background checks again.
Both the state and federal government are lending a helping hand in the recovery of Newtown and surrounding communities affected by the violence at Sandy Hook. At today’s town hall, Governor Malloy and I announced two new grants to help in the recovery process.
Under Connecticut’s new Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety Act, signed into law by Governor Malloy last month, Connecticut will provide $5 million to municipalities to boost school security. State funding will go to schools with the most need—buildings with little or no security infrastructure in school districts that are struggling financially.
At the federal level, the U.S. Department of Education will provide a $1.3 million Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grant to the Newtown Public School District to assist the community in recovering from the shootings.
The Project SERV grant will help fund grief support groups for siblings who lost classmates, skill-based counseling for students suffering posttraumatic stress, security guards, an academic-booster summer session for students, and many other services.
Our efforts to assist the recovery of Newtown from this tragedy are only the beginning of the steps that our schools, communities, Congress, and our country must take to ensure our children grow up safe and free from fear.
Every community needs to appraise its values–and look at whether the community, parents, business leaders, faith-based leaders, political leaders, and schools are doing everything that they can to keep our nation’s children safe from harm.
This is a collective responsibility. None of us gets a pass. As a nation, we cannot “move on” and forget the pain and unbearable tragedy of 20 young children and six educators gunned down in an elementary school in a matter of minutes on December 14, 2012.
The students I talked in Connecticut today were bright, spirited, and eager to go on to college to get their degrees. They are the faces of the future. Our nation’s leaders, our parents and our educators owe it to them and to all our children to do everything in our power to make sure their dreams are not cut short by violence.
Today, the First Lady and actress Kerry Washington visited the Savoy School in Anacostia, one of eight schools selected last year for the Turnaround Arts Initiative at the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Through the initiative, these high-poverty, traditionally underperforming schools are using the arts to dramatically improve the culture and climate and to bolster academic success for their students.
Once the lowest performing school in the district — less than a fourth of its students were proficient in reading and math in 2011 — Savoy is already showing significant signs of success. Test scores are rising, enrollment is up 18%, student and teacher attendance is up, and due to the recent progress, the school is developing a cadre of new community and fine arts partnerships.
The First Lady saw the school in action firsthand today. She first visited a few classrooms, playing freeze dance with 4 and 5 year olds, and checking out art projects that a fifth grade class was working on. Then the First Lady watched the students perform “Who Put the Bomp” in their poodle skirts and “Yes We Can,” which got the whole crowd clapping and swaying along.
Speaking to the students, the First Lady said:
“When you work hard and you invest thousands of hours in anything, you get better. And that’s what you guys are learning here at Savoy. Hopefully you are learning that with your math, with your reading, with your dancing, with your singing, it’s about the amount of effort that you want to put into anything.”
For the grand finale, Kerry Washington, a member of the President’s Committee on Arts & Humanities and a mentor to the Savoy School, joined in on the performance and danced the Lindy Hop with the kids — she even did a few cartwheels across the stage.
Raw Video: Freeze Dance with First Lady Michelle Obama
May 24, 2013 | 1:32 | Public Domain
At Savoy Elementary School in Washington, D.C., First Lady Michelle Obama joins Ms. Lyons Pre-K class in an exercise of Freeze Dance. The First Lady visited the Savoy School which is one of eight schools selected last year for The Turnaround Arts Initiative at the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Turnaround Arts Schools use the arts as a central part of their reform strategy, both to dramatically improve the culture and climate, and to bolster academic success in high poverty, traditionally underperforming schools. Once the lowest performing school in the district with less than a fourth of its students proficient in reading and math in 2011, the school is already showing significant signs of success.
Cecilia Muñoz sobre el Día de los Caídos en la Guerra y el Voto Bipartidista en el Senado para la Reforma Migratoria
May 24, 2013 | 2:16 | Public Domain
En el mensaje de esta semana, Cecilia Muñoz rindió homenaje a los hombres y mujeres uniformados que murieron mientras servían a la patria. Cecilia también habló sobre la emotiva reunión del Presidente Obama y el Vicepresidente Biden con DREAMers y con familias de inmigrantes indocumentados y elogió el voto bipartidista sólido en el Senado para una reforma migratoria integral.
President Barack Obama watches as graduates toss their hats at the conclusion of the U.S. Naval Academy commencement at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md., May 24, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Speeches and Remarks
In Case You Missed It
Responding to the Tornadoes in Oklahoma: On Monday, the President spoke with Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to express his concern for those who have been affected by the tornadoes in Oklahoma. The President told Governor Fallin that the administration is committed to providing all the assistance it can to Oklahoma as the response effort unfolds, including approving aMajor Disaster Declaration, making federal funding available to support affected individuals, and providing additional federal assistance to support immediate response and recovery efforts.
On Tuesday, President Obama delivered a statement on the devastating tornadoes and severe weather that impacted Oklahoma. He outlined the response efforts underway, and assured the people of Moore and all the affected areas that they would have all the resources that they need at their disposal.
“Americans from every corner of this country will be right there with them, opening our homes, our hearts to those in need. Because we’re a nation that stands with our fellow citizens as long as it takes. We’ve seen that spirit in Joplin, in Tuscaloosa; we saw that spirit in Boston and Breezy Point. And that’s what the people of Oklahoma are going to need from us right now. “
Morehouse College: On Sunday, President Obama delivered the commencement address to the 2013 graduates of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. The President told the graduates that their generation is uniquely poised for success unlike any generation of African Americans that came before it.
“It is one of the great honors of my life to be able to address this gathering here today,” President Obama told the graduates. He spoke about Morehouse’s history, and “the unique sense of purpose that this place has always infused — the conviction that this is a training ground not only for individual success, but for leadership that can change the world.”
Meeting with the President of Myanmar: On Monday, President Obama welcomed President Thein Sein of Myanmar to the White House for a bilateral meeting, the first visit to the United States by a leader of that country in almost 50 years. During the meeting, the President recognized President Thein Sein’s leadership in moving Myanmar down a path toward political and economic reform as the driving force for improved relations between our two countries.
“We very much appreciate your efforts and leadership in leading Myanmar in a new direction,” President Obama told President Thein Sein. “We want you to know that the United States will make every effort to assist you on what I know is a long, and sometimes difficult, but ultimately correct path to follow.”
DREAMers: On Wednesday, the President and the Vice President hosted a meeting in the Oval Office with young immigrants and the siblings and spouses of undocumented immigrants. The gathering was an important opportunity for the President and the Vice President to hear directly from people whose families are affected daily by our nation’s broken immigration system. The DREAMers shared how the President’s proposal changed their lives for the better and emphasized that they and their families need a permanent solution that will allow them to fully contribute to the country they call home. As the meeting was wrapping up, the President reiterated his commitment to passing a bipartisan,commonsense immigration reform bill this year.
Gershwin Prize: On Wednesday, as part of the “In Performance at the White House,” series, the White House hosted a concert honoring Carole King, the first woman to receive the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize. The Gershwin Prize honors individuals for lifetime achievement in popular music and Wednesday, King joined recording artists James Taylor, Gloria Estefan, Billy Joel, Jesse McCartney, Emeli Sande, and Trisha Yearwood in the East Room as she accepted the award on behalf of the co-writers she worked with throughout her career.
National Defense University: Thursday, President Obama laid out a framework for U.S. counterterrorism strategy as we wind down the war in Afghanistan. President Obama discussed how the threat of terrorism has changed substantially since September 11, 2011 — and explained his comprehensive strategy to meet these threats.
“The quiet determination; that strength of character and bond of fellowship; that refutation of fear — that is both our sword and our shield. And long after the current messengers of hate have faded from the world’s memory, alongside the brutal despots, and deranged madmen, and ruthless demagogues who litter history — the flag of the United States will still wave from small-town cemeteries to national monuments, to distant outposts abroad. And that flag will still stand for freedom.”
The Weekend Schedule:
On Sunday, the President Barack Hussein Obama will travel to Oklahoma to survey the damage from recent tornadoes there, and to visit affected families and first responders.
On Monday, after having breakfast with the families of fallen soldiers, the president will visit Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and give remarks.
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