Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Obamas plan casual Chicago Memorial Day weekend with friends


WASHINGTON--The Obama family, finally, return to Sweet Home Chicago for the Memorial Day weekend.

The last time the family -- Obama, first lady Michelle, Malia, 11 and Sasha, 8 -- were back at their home on South Greenwood was over Valentine's Day weekend 2009. Obama made two quick day trips last summer, not staying overnight.

If anyone thought that the Kenwood community would host a Chicago White House -- and some people did -- well, they were very disappointed.

I'm told the Obama family is planning a casual weekend with friends. President Obama will throw in some work; on Monday, Obama will deliver a Memorial Day address at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, near Joliet, about 50 miles south of Chicago.

When Obama was elected, he envisioned frequent visits back home that never materialized. In December 2008, then President-elect Obama said he expected to return "as often as possible, my expectation would be that, depending on what my schedule looks like, you know, we're going to try to get back here at least once every six weeks or couple of months."

It turned out that the first couple was so eager to embrace Washington -- and get Sasha and Malia settled in a new school with new friends -- that Chicago visits just never happened. Besides, the Chicago pals -- of the Obamas and their kids' friends -- were just as happy to hang at the White House or Camp David, the presidential retreat. Last summer, Chicago buddy Marty Nesbitt and his family even rented a place in Washington for a short time just to be nearby.

The Obama home will be a historic site whether or not the Obamas ever live there full time again. Last January, I asked Mrs. Obama why they never came home. She said, "Just tell Chicago, 'nothing personal.' It's kids."

The Obama Valentine's Day return did cause some tumult, Mrs. Obama noted. South Lake Shore Drive closed for their motorcade, and security officials restricted access to streets near the house. Mrs. Obama, who said she missed shopping at the Target on Roosevelt Road, added, "It's really life and the fact that the kids have built a life here and that's good and right now I want to encourage that life and not keep pulling them out. So it's less our schedules than them. Who's got kids? They dictate the weekend."

When the Obamas get home, they will find the home next door empty; their former neighbors, Bill and Jacky Grimshaw, moved out after selling their place for $1.4 million, and the new owners planned extensive renovations before moving in. The bidding war the Grimshaws hoped for over their home never occurred. While federal representatives looked at the Grimshaw house, the government did not go ahead with a purchase.


As Commander In Chief, taking a vacation on Memorial Day weekend seems wrong.

Well, of course, he wouldn't be laying a wreath at Arlington. This guy creeps me out.

My guess is that he will attend the funeral for Officer Wortham on Friday.

Jami, I guess virtually everyone else can??
Joan and Jami..he will be laying a wreath at the Lincoln National Cemetery nearby...does that help your case against the President? Gee whiz...people ought to get a grip!

I didn't believe this story. Not laying a wreath at Arlington on Memorial Day? More disrespect for our military and our Country. This arrogant baffoon should be impeached immediately!

Does this say that the President of the United States will not be laying a wreathe at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington, D.C. on Memorial Day?

This cannot be correct.

I can not beleive the President of the United States will not be at Arlington Cematary to honor our fallen. That is shameful!

Shame on you Mr. President. The highest honor bestowed on any individaul to thank those that have made the ultimate sacrafice for our country and you are going pass? You don't speak for me.

Wow! Our President is full of surprises! I served our country for 5 years and know of more than enough Marines who lost their lives in service to their beloved country. After my service, I have always treated Memorial Day with the reverence & respect it deserves. Yet this Clown-in-Chief decides to take a long weekend in Chicago and "throw in some work" at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery. Obama and Lincoln shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath. What a joke? Shame on you, Barry. What a disgrace to all the men and women who died horrible deaths alone and away from loved ones to give you the freedoms you enjoy today! I pray this man comes to his senses by attending the ceremony at Arlington and the Luncheon with the Gold Star families!

This speaks poorly of the POTUS to miss a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington. Alas, we know he does not care too much for those who died to enable him to become president. Shame!

This is unreal.What total dissrespect for our war dead and the men and women presently serving in our armed forces.Liberalism at it's finest.Commander In Chief,what a joke.

This is absolutely disgraceful. Obama is blowing off all the American Veterans who gave their life defending our country so he can go on vacation. Any of you who don't think this is a big deal, go up to a veteran this weekend and tell them Obama's vacation is more important than honoring the sacrifices their friends and family members made so we could live in a free country.

Leaving the REAL work to protect this nation to the brave men at Arlington.....

Obama still does not really understand that we voted for him to be our leader and our servant. He has not yet grasped the seriousness of the Office of the President of the United States. He likes all of the pomp, ceremonies, parties, etc. but he is clueless on how to truly lead. How sad.

Presidents Reagan and both Bush's had the Vice President lay the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier while attending other ceremonies in different states. As far as impeachment? That's kind of extreme. I think we all need to do some fact checking and history reviews before jumping to conclusions.

Of course Obama not laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is disgraceful, but what is shocking is the awesome stupidity of it. Don't ever try to convince me of Mr. Teleprompter's supreme intellect again. He's a two-bit community organizer that doesn't even like this country.

Sheesh you people are stupid.

Reagan and George H.W. Bush both had representatives lay wreaths on Memorial Day.

In 1983, President Reagan had Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Thayer represent him at the ceremony.

Similarly, Memorial Day in 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle laid a wreath at the tomb while Bush spoke to American Legion members in Kennebunkport, Maine, and played golf.

As a veteran and someone know knows some of those who have fallen in battle it is a complete and utter disappointment that our Commander in Chief will not be paying homage at the Tomb on Memorial Day. This is the problem with liberals who have never had the courage to serve their country in any way other than political hack.

Shameful? does the rest of America usually honor Memorial Day? By having barbecues. I'm sure that if you polled most Americans, they'd tell you that MD is merely the unofficial beginning of summer. How do you plan to honor the fallen, all of you holier-than-Obama patriots?

The weekend is positioned as a normal family thing to do. Yes, us normal people will be grilling pork products on Monday because our military made sure the option is available. The president is not a normal guy. See your friends Friday night, Saturday and Sunday then get on your plane and fly in for an Arlington Ceremony. You were going to do a little work anyway. Since there are no lines, traffic or TSA you could even stretch it to Monday AM; traffic is bad coming back into town Monday afternoon anyway for us normal guys.

Well, Mai, most of us are not-let's see-President of the nation or, more pertinently, Commander In Chief of our armed forces. Most of us have not-contrary to his campaign rhetoric-presided over the sacrifice of yet more of our young people to the Middle East meatgrinder in the interest of "nation building" to back up the corrupt leader of Afghanistan. Speaking of our dead soldiers, he is also skipping out on the Gold Star Families' breakfast at the White House, an event honoring the parents of those who have fallen in our ill-advised adventures overseas. So you see, how the rest of us celebrate Memorial Day really is immaterial here. The President is the one who has the obligation. How disgraceful that Pres. Obama is the first one to have found something better to do. Given the cloth this Communist cretin is cut from, however, hardly surprising.

Isn't it obvious what is important to the illustrious leader of the free world? He continually breaks with tradition and doesn't waste an opportunity to disrespect this country and its legal citizens, both living and deceased. The families of veterans who have sacrificed their lives for the freedoms we enjoy today should be furious at this man! The audacity with which he strides into town is incredibly narcissistic and unacceptable. Impeach!!!!

Does this clown even KNOW what his JOB is? I guess if Axelrod doesn't write down the instructions for him on his Teleprompter, the Muppet-in-Chief has no clue? This guy is a disgrace. This job is 10 levels above his pay grade. Perhaps he should have gotten some management experience at a McDonalds or Target before applying for such a big management job? It's CLEAR that he doesn't know what he's doing. ALL veterans should realize how insensitive and uncaring this joke is when it comes to their sacrifices. Oh, of course the MOTUS (Muppet of the United States) will find time for golf, fundraising for other arrogant democrats on the taxpayer's dime (such as Boxer) and taking his brats to a concert back in DC. But Arlington on the Military's most precious day? Uh, no! For the first time in my adult life, I am EMBARRASSED to be an American! The sooner we rid ourselves of this joke, the better. Impeach, remove, and deport.

George H. W. Bush was on the campaign trail in 1992 and scheduled to speak at an American Legions event in Maine on Memorial Day. *Plus he is a WW2 Veteran

Ronald Reagan was in the midst of a contentious economic summit in 1983

Obama Never served and will be on vacation. How can people defend this man. Unreal!! Wow. Simply Wow. sad.

I cannot believe anyone can defend this shameful snub of veterans by President Obama. Don't give ME excuses of what 2 republicans presidents did. He wants to take time off while Americans are dying in active combat. As I write this, our country is fighting a war in two countries, remember Iraq & Afghanistan! In addition, the Korean Peninsula is about to erupt from its 60 year cease-fire. Oh yeah, we must have forgotten that little "police action" was never settled-how convenient. Did we forget about all those Americans who died there, too?

Aren't we at war? Isn't he the Commander in Chief? It's a disgrace.

the lincoln memorial cemetery is a military cemetery we have two relatives the died for their country buried there it is altogether fitting and just that he obama speak there no its not as prestiquous as arlington where we have relatives also buried but it is a cemetary where soldiers who are dying everyday in iraq are being buried it is a soldiers cemetary and it is a beautiful place i will be going there as i planned it before the president planned it to honor ronald zeug who died of agaent orange from the viet nam war

Morons who do not know history.

I would like to hear a word from the Obamas for the beleaguered people, especially children and young people, of the South Side. With all the slaughter going on there in the past few summers, I have been very disappointed by their complete silence. Come out on the front porch even? Use the magic of the presidency to inspire and uplift.

So is this the home he got in a sweetheart deal with Tony Rezco?

Mal, you ask what I will be doing on Memorial day to honor the troops? What about you?
I plan to go to my father's grave and place a flag and flowers on it. Marine, Purple Heart, wounded in Guam. I will have on my Buddy Poppy, which I will buy from a Vet. My flag will be flying, and I will Thank G_D that veterans gave, and are still giving, their lives for me to be able to express myself in English and not some other foreign language.

I will march with my sons Cub Scout pack in the local parade honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Then I will attend a service at the local cemetery. Then I will have a barbeque. Why? Because I can. Because I am free - thanks to the men and women of the armed forces of the United States of America.

I just love the fake outrage in the posters above. Who do you think is buried at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery? It is a VA Cemetery.

This man is not and will never be my President.
I am disgusted and shocked at his actions.
"Remember November".

What Talty said, regarding the fake outrage. I have never been to Arlington, even though I live 45 miles from there, and I am a combat vet. Any veterans cemetery, including the one in St. Louis where my father's brother (killed in WW II) is buried, is sacred ground. The President will do his duty on veterans day, but he also has small kids and a home town. They have a right to go home a few times a year and have a life. Some of the Obama haters on this thread need to get a life. Joe Biden will be at Arlington. He goes home to Delaware nearly every weekend.

Well Mr. President is just living up to his campaign promises of making a change---why oh why are you surprised I knew he would be doing this when he was campaigning he told us. I'm glad that Mr. VP will be there and I wish him well. Thanks to all the vets for their service and their dedication to duty and love of this country. I wish Mr. Pres would show it more often thats all.

It is very common for sitting Presidents to have proxies lay the wreath at the Memorial Day Ceremony in Arlington. Obama is giving a speech at Lincoln Nat. Cemetery for veterans.
As a combat veteran I am alright with this. What I am NOT alright with is the partisan finger pointing and divisive rhetoric surrounding this non-issue.
Wake up citizens and stop fighting each other for the sake of one party or the other.
What is shameful is that we are spending our time criticizing the President for the venue he chooses to honor our vet.s rather than remembering what this holiday is about.
Focus people!


While I can't speak for the motives of Jami and Joan, I do find it unusual that the Commander in Chief would not lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. While I commend him for at least going to another cemetery, they are not the same. Arlington cemetery, and especially the Tomb of the Unknowns, is recognized as the premier resting place for those who died defending our Nation.
In life, and especially politics, perception matters. I have heard the phrase "Perception is Reality" many time. The perception is that the President chose not to honor those who have died defending this country by honoring their memory at Arlington and chose instead to have a family vacation. While I don't begrudge him a break from Washington, I do think it was poor timing. There are many who didn’t “celebrate” but spent Memorial Day remembering, remembering their loved ones who died defending this great county. Perceptions do matter and regardless of any other opinion of the President, this is a bad perception.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on May 25, 2010 10:18 AM.

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