MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
President Barack Obama recognized four Marines from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., during the White Houses’ second annual “Salute to the military” USO concert, July 4, 2010.
The Marines, Gunnery Sgt. Douglas Hester, Staff Sgt. Jonathan Piel, Cpl. Lawrence Henry-Taylor and Cpl. Darron Dale, were among 108 service members and their families from Camp Lejeune who celebrated the Fourth of July at the White House. Alongside them were 1,200 other service members and their families from all other branches of service.
“It was nice to see the President recognize service members and some of the sacrifices we make,” said Capt. Chris Boyle, assistant operations officer with 2nd Air-Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group. “Many of the people there had been deployed multiple times or wounded in combat and don’t get much time at home with their families.”
The day was filled with games, food, drinks, a comedy show by Cedric the Entertainer, music performed by The President’s Own, The Killers and Brandi Carlile, and a view of fireworks over the National Mall.
“All across our great country today, folks are coming together, decked out in their red and white and blue, firing up the grill, having a good time with family, just like here today,” Obama said during a speech to the guests. “Michelle and I couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate America’s birthday than with America’s extraordinary men and women in uniform, and your families.”
Obama went on to explain his pride in the nation’s 234 years of independence and how, without the men and women serving in the military, our nation would not be as great as it is today.
Surrounding him were four members from each branch of service whom he recognized in a private setting before his speech. Among those, where the four Marines from Camp Lejeune.
During the speech, Obama verbally saluted one person from each military branch who stood beside him.
“We salute the United States Marine Corps and a Marine who, for his heroic actions in Afghanistan, exposing himself to enemy machine gunfire to help rescue his fellow Marines, was recognized with the Bronze Star for valor – Staff Sgt. Jonathan Piel,” the President said.
Receiving recognition from the commander in chief was an extremely proud moment for Piel.
“I am just a Marine from a small Louisiana town where we wonder what the White House looks like,” Piel said. “And there I was in the White House talking with the President.”
The White House has made the “Salute to the military” an annual Independence Day event.
Piel said attending the event is a great opportunity for anyone given the option to go.
“We serve our country, so when we are provided the opportunity to do things like this, we should take advantage of it.”