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(NECN: Washington, D.C.) - President Barack Obama hosted members of the military and their family for a White House barbecue and fireworks show on Independence Day.
The president said that thanks to the military members in attendance and serving overseas, the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq is going ahead as planned.
"Because of the honor and heroism of our troops, we are poised to end our combat mission in Iraq this summer, on schedule," the president said.
Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill spent the Fourth of July holiday with U.S. troops in Iraq. But at the White House, the president was celebrating both this nation's birth and that of his daughter, who turned 12 on this July 4th. Comedian Cedric the Entertainer, singer Brandi Carlile and rock band The Killers are scheduled to perform at the White House party.
In awe of the patriots
"We still look in awe at the small band of patriots who stood up and risked everything and defied an empire to declare that these united colonies are and of right ought to be free an independent states," Mr. Obama said. "We're amazed at the debt to a founding generation that gave their blood to give meaning to those words, pledging to each other their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor."
President Obama, in stressing the ties between the ideals of America's Founding Fathers, quoted Thomas Jefferson's work in the Delcaration of Independence:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."