President Obama and First Lady Michelle Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the White House

Posted by: Audiegrl

The fountain in front of the White House flows with green water, Tuesday, March 17, 2009, in honor of St. Patrick's Day in Washington. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

Saint Patrick’s Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig) is a yearly holiday celebrated on 17 March. It is named after Saint Patrick (circa AD 387–461), the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of Ireland. It began as a purely Catholic holiday and became an official feast day in the early 1600s. However, it has gradually become more of a secular celebration of Ireland’s culture.

It is a public holiday on the island of Ireland (both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland) and widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora in places such as Great Britain, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and Montserrat.

First Lady Michelle Obama brought a new tradition to the White House in 2009. She asked groundskeepers to dye the White House’s fountain water green for St. Patrick’s Day, paying homage to a long-time tradition in her home in Chicago. Each year the windy city’s Chicago River is dyed green for the St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

President Barack Obama (R) meets with the Taoiseach of Ireland Brian Cowen, in the Oval Office at the White House on March 17, 2010 in Washington, DC. Taoiseach Cowen is in Washington for St. Patrick's Day to meet with President Obama and later this afternoon will have lunch with members of Congress at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images North America)

(AFP)~President Barack Obama on Wednesday thanked Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen for his support on “critical” global issues, and feted the Irish diaspora in America on Saint Patrick’s Day.

Obama welcomed the Irish leader to the Oval Office, in line with regular Saint Patrick’s Day tradition, and was also due to host a reception later in the evening to mark Ireland’s national celebration.

The president, wearing a green tie, thanked Cowen for Ireland’s assistance on “critical international issues,” noting that many US troops transited through Ireland on the way to Afghanistan.

He also praised the Irish government for the role its police were playing in training police forces in Afghanistan and said 36 million people who trace their lineage to Ireland had made a great contribution to American life.

Obama praised Cowen’s government for the role it was playing along with Britain and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in “reaffirming the progress that has been made in Northern Ireland.”

Cowen praised Obama’s sense of “mission” in the way he is positioning America around the world and praised the efforts the US leader had made since coming to office last year in repairing US banks and reviving the economy.

Read President Obama’s Transcript

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First Lady Michelle Obama appeared at an event sponsored by Newsweek at Washington's Newseum, where she spoke about her campaign to improve fitness and combat obesity in children. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite/March 17 2010)

Following her cover story for Newsweek, the First Lady talked with Newsweek’s Editor Jon Meacham about her Let’s Move campaign at the Newseum in Washington D.C. today. She discussed the magnitude of the problem of childhood obesity, especially during current times as a busier culture:

We’re also a culture and a society right now that snacks a lot more. Just some of the statistics I talked about in my speech yesterday was that the average snack amount when I was growing up was one snack a day, if you were lucky. And now it’s averaging two to three. They say the average school-age kid is getting six snacks a day. So we’re taking 200 more calories than we were 40 years ago, 30 years ago just from snacks alone.

She explained the importance of food manufacturing industries providing clear food labels so people can easily make decisions about what foods are healthy. “Parents have to understand what’s in the Twinkie; again, how does it fit into the overall diet. So we don’t need a warning, we need information. And we need information that’s easy to understand.”

The First Lady also talked about passing legislation that will set nutritional guidelines for school lunch programs and vending machines. President Obama signed an Executive Order creating the Council on Childhood Obesity that will review every program and policy regarding education and nutrition.

Visit LetsMove.gov to learn more about the initiative to address the growing health epidemic of childhood obesity.

Remarks by First Lady Michelle Obama at Newsweek’s Newseum Event

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President Barack Obama (R) talks to U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (L) during a departure from the annual St. Patrick?s Day Capitol Hill luncheon March 17, 2010 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Obama will host Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen for a St. Patricks Day reception at the White House in the evening. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images North America)

ABC~At House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s annual Friends of Annual luncheon this afternoon, President Obama told the crowd that the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., was paying attention to the health care reform battle as it reaches its final hours.

The president said that today “we all feel the heavy absence of one of our greatest Irish-Americans; a man who loved this day so much; a man who I believe is still watching this body closely, particularly this week — and that is our beloved Ted Kennedy.

Kennedy was a longtime advocate of expanding government-run health insurance and would have played a key role in the formation of the health care reform bill had he not taken ill.

At the luncheon, the president noted the presence of Kennedy’s widow Victoria Reggie and his son Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-RI.

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In the evening, the President and the First Lady hosted the Taoiseach and Mrs. Cowen at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Reception held in the East Room. The President and the Taoiseach delivered remarks and participated in a traditional Shamrock Ceremony. The Vice President introduced the President. Prior to their arrival, the Keltic Dreams, an after school Irish dancing troupe from Public School 59 in the Bronx, and the City of Washington Pipe Band performed.

President Barack Obama (R) receives a bowl of shamrocks from Prime Minister of Ireland Brian Cowen (L) during the annual St. Patrick's Day Reception in the East Room of the White House, March 17, 2010 in Washington, DC. Obama and Cowen delivered remarks and participated in a traditional shamrock ceremony. Also in the picture is Mary Cowen (2nd L), wife of Prime Minister of Ireland Brian Cowen, and First Lady Michelle Obama (R).(Photo by Pool/Getty Images)

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Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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Filed under (Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi, First Lady Michelle Obama, Politics, Pres. Barack Obama, St. Patrick's Day, Uncategorized, Vice-President Joe Biden, Video/YouTube

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