President Obama will be spending Independence Day doing what many Americans will be doing: enjoying barbecue and watching fireworks. But before hosting military families at a White House Fourth of July celebration, the president will take part in a naturalization ceremony for active duty military and their spouses, as well as veterans and reservists.
"This is something that previous presidents have done, oftentimes on the fourth of July," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday. Giving those military members and their spouses "the opportunity to be naturalized and to get their official U.S. citizenship on Independence Day, I think is a pretty compelling story," he added. "I can tell you that the president's genuinely looking forward to it."
The ceremony, according to the White House, will recognize the contributions made by foreign-born members of the military who have earned their American citizenship by serving our country, and the contributions that immigrants from all walks of life have made to our country throughout its history.
Fifteen active duty service members serving in the Navy, U.S. Army, Marines, and Air Force, two veterans, one reservist and seven military spouses will receive their citizenship, the White House said.
In addition, the ceremony will also honor Chef José Andrés, with the Outstanding American by Choice recognition by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the White House announced.
Later Friday evening, Mr. Obama will host a barbecue and picnic for military families and White House staff on the South Lawn of the White House - one of the best vantage points in Washington, D.C., to watch the fireworks.
For his part, Vice President Joe Biden will head to Philadelphia to participate in the Celebration of Freedom Ceremony at Independence Hall.
And also worth noting: the Obamas' eldest daughter celebrates her 16th birthday Friday.