Obama Becomes First President To Skip the "Salute To Heroes" Ball

No time for Medal of Honor and Purple Heart recipients or paralyzed vets? According to TSO who was at the “Salute to Heroes Inaugural Ball”, this newly sworn-in President for the first time in 56 years blew off the ball (that’s 14 Inaugurations).
Some background on the ball;

The American Legion sponsors the ball, which recognizes recipients of Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award. It started in 1953 for President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s first inauguration.

Event co-sponsors include 13 other veterans service organizations, among them the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

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Comment by Jim Werbaneth on January 26, 2009 at 5:05pm
Thank you for putting out the effort to get some authoritative details. Still, were I an adviser to President Obama, I would said something to the effect of "Fer Chrissakes go to the Salute to Heroes Ball and get your picture taken!" While I can understand the security issues, I do not think that absenting himself was the optimal move. Both as a political expedient and as the right thing to do, he should have been there.
Comment by Billy on January 26, 2009 at 5:00pm
Hey All,

Just a heads up on this (non) story via newswire. It looks like the faux news heads and dead-enders are going to need to make up a different story to get all bent out of shape on. I guess the more thingschange, the more things stay the same :-)....

Upon reading a Newsvine user's seed of a blog that used unsourced information that said the following:

According to TSO who was at the “Salute to Heroes Inaugural Ball”, this newly sworn-in President for the first time in 56 years blew off the ball (that’s 14 Inaugurations).

Some background on the ball;

The American Legion sponsors the ball, which recognizes recipients of Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award. It started in 1953 for President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s first inauguration.

Event co-sponsors include 13 other veterans service organizations, among them the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

So where was our new President instead of honoring Medal of Honor recipients who by some miracle are still alive? According to Huffington Post, this was his schedule for Inaugural celebrations;

Later that day, the Presidential Inaugural Committee will host 10 official inaugural balls:

— Neighborhood Inaugural Ball at the Washington Convention Center.

— Obama Home States (Illinois and Hawaii) Inaugural Ball at the Washington Convention Center.

— Biden Home States (Pennsylvania and Delaware) Inaugural Ball at the Washington Convention Center.

— Midwest Inaugural Ball at the Washington Convention Center.

— Mid-Atlantic Inaugural Ball at the Washington Convention Center.

— Western Inaugural Ball at the Washington Convention Center.

— Commander in Chief’s Ball at the National Building Museum.

— Southern Inaugural Ball at the National Guard Armory.

— Eastern Inaugural Ball at Union Station.

— Youth Inaugural Ball at the Washington Hilton.

Unofficial balls include:

— Congressional Black Caucus Inaugural Ball at the Capitol Hilton.

— Creative Coalition Inaugural Ball at the Harman Center for the Arts.

— Recording Industry Association of America’s ball for Feeding America.

— BET’s Inaugural Ball at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

— Africa on the Potomac inaugural celebration at Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Va.

— American Music Inaugural Ball at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.

— Inaugural Purple Ball at the Fairmont Hotel.

— Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Ball at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel.

— Inaugural Peace Ball at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.

— Impact Film Fund ball.

Mr. Wolf from Blackfive sends along this link to which Inaugural Balls Obama actually attended last night.


Source

Blackfive, which I read occasionally for military pieces, confirmed that President Obama did not come to the inaugural ball. So I became curious because the only two sources were two blogs and one source that consisted of initials. Therefore, I did what any rational person would do: I contacted the American Legion to get the straight story from the people who would know. I was put in contact with a very pleasant gentleman named Craig Roberts who is the American Legion's Media Relations Manager and after our conversation he e-mailed me this statement which I will include in its entirety:

In answer to your inquiry:

The American Legion, as it has on every inauguration evening since 1953, hosted the Salute to Heroes Inaugural Banquet & Ball on January 20th. The quadrennial event is co-sponsored with fourteen veterans service and military service organizations and honors recipients of the Medal of Honor. Forty-seven of these heroes attended this year’s event which was held in the Renaissance Washington DC Hotel.

President Obama was invited but did not attend. Vice-President Joe Biden did appear, however, and was very warmly received. The new President’s absence was understandable considering the unprecedented logistical challenges presented by the vastly increased number of visitors to this inauguration and the necessary attendant security measures. The American Legion, as an organization, does not feel offended or “snubbed.”

Thank you,

Craig Roberts

Media Relations Manager

The American Legion

1608 K Street, NW

Washington, DC 20006

202.263.2982 (direct)



First of all, I would like to thank Mr. Roberts for taking my call and taking the time to compose this statement so that I can share it on behalf of the American Legion. So to those fellow Obama supporters that think this ball did not happen, it did. It was omitted from the media outlets it was omitted from because of logistical challenges due to the extraordinary number of people that flooded Washington D.C. to see Barack Obama be inaugurated as the 44th president and it is not yet on the American Legion's website (as I type this at 8:30 A.M. on 1-23-09) because of some difficulties in updating the website. However, there will be media coverage of the event forthcoming.

I have found out also that the likely reason that Barack Obama attended the auxiliary balls that he did is because six of the balls that he attended were held in the same building. Therefore, attending those balls and the others that he attended were the most efficient with regards to security. It is no secret that President Obama has had questions surrounding his security, that is evident by observing that he was the earliest presidential candidate ever to get a security detail. If the Secret Service felt it prudent to guard him so early in the campaign can the reader imagine what the Secret Service feels is prudent now that he is the President of the United States?

The most likely reason that President Obama did not go to the "Salute to Heroes" inaugural ball is because it was held in the Renaissance Hotel which consists of 16 floors. There was an event called the "Illinois Party - Presidential Event" held at the Renaissance the night before that the then-President-elect did not attend either (I have a call in to the President's press office asking for confirmation of this information which was given to me by one of my sources for this story). Given the amount of time and resources it would have taken to clear a 16 floor hotel as well as protect it while President Obama was inside, I can only guess that he was advised by his Presidential Protection Detail not to attend either inaugural ball because of the building and the inherent problems in securing and then protecting it. The sheer number of people crowding the streets and staying in the hotel surely presented a formidable screening problem as well. But, there's your story... it's not as sexy as "Barack Obama Hates The Military" but it is the truth as best I can tell after talking to the organization responsible for hosting the event and doing some research and educated guesswork about why a security team wouldn't want to protect a principal in the Renaissance with more than 2 million extra people in Washington D.C.

Update: It would appear that, according to Stars & Stripes that Obama had some Medal of Honor recipients at an inaugural ball that he attended. This gives the number of living Medal of Honor recipients as 99, but I believe that two have passed away since that number was compiled leaving 97. There are 7 in this picture and there were 47 at the American Legion inaugural event. I'm curious if there were more at the event this photo was taken at.
Comment by Martin Davis on January 24, 2009 at 3:28am


I can clearly see that President Obama hates the troops..
Comment by Tony on January 23, 2009 at 12:19pm
"He's not a stupid man, and well aware of the wariness which the military regards him, seems unlikely that he would piss them off unwittingly."

I hope this is my last post on the subject,
He doesn't care what the military or anyone else thinks about him.
Everything I have read and watched about him, he is arrogant and stuborn.
Nothing in his past shows that he is charming, respectful, or a "people person".

Look at the way he handled the White House press corps, he put his hand on a reporter and sternly told him he wasn't going to answer the question.
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0109/17831.html
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0109/17833.html

The Clinton media honeymoon lasted well into the summer of '93.
Knowing how arrogant BHO is, I thought his honeymoon would last maybe untill April, looks like it's ended sooner.
The media created him, they know that and now they want payback.
Comment by Mark H. Walker on January 23, 2009 at 5:51am
Hi Guys,

I'm not an Obbama apologist. I voted for McCain, would do so again, and I'm a retired Navy 0-5. That said... snippets such as this are no better than left-wing media blurbs promoting Obama, or sound bites that demeaned McCain. What's the complete story? Okay, Obama choose not to attend the ball. Why? For sure there is a reason, perhaps even a good one. He's not a stupid man, and well aware of the wariness which the military regards him, seems unlikely that he would piss them off unwittingly.
Comment by Bill on January 22, 2009 at 11:46pm
I just hope hes got 2 of them!
Comment by TeufelHund on January 22, 2009 at 11:40pm
Didn't the guy go to 12 balls that night anyway...surely as president you can't make it to everything.
Comment by Bill on January 22, 2009 at 10:21pm
Do you believe that Reich ? What a beauty!
Comment by Chris Gammon on January 22, 2009 at 10:02pm
Sorry Chuck, your retirement account is going to be MIA after the feds get through giving it to someone else. (Want another GRRRR moment? See this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opxuUj6vFa4 starring Robert "The 3rd" Reich".
Comment by Don Lazov on January 22, 2009 at 5:25pm
The youth has been warped by the current education system and the mass media bias. It's rather sickening to say the least.

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