Behind the Scenes PhotoBlog: Iraq Veterans Honored at the White House

 Last night Soldiers from across the country descended upon the Nation’s Capital to attend a formal dinner at the White House entitled “A Nation’s Gratitude: Honoring those who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.”

Hosted by the Commander-in-Chief and First Lady, a Nation’s Gratitude brought together dozens of Iraq VeteransGold Star Families and Veterans groups and their guests into the White House’s East Room.  

The service members at the dinner mirrored a cross-section of the million-plus who served in Iraq over the past nine years. They represented all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories and spanned generations, gender and all five branches of the U.S. military.

The White House dinner menu was a long way from the sleek tanned packages stamped “MRE” (Meals Ready-to-Eat) that was the staple  cuisine of these Troops while serving in Iraq. During the dinner, guests dined on salad of heirloom tomatoes with baby mozzarella cheese with basil and balsamic vinaigrette, aged rib-eye steak with bearnaise sauce, yukon gold potato croquettes and chocolate creme brulee with brownie and mini-chocolate malteds.

While this was a formal dinner for the few, President Barack Obama noted selfless contributions of the many, saying, “…through the dust and the din and the fog of war, the glory of your service always shone through. In your noble example, we see the virtues and the values that sustain America, that keep this country great.”

The eight National Guard members selected to have dinner with the Obamas at the White House, gather after a pre-briefing Feb. 29, 2012 in Arlington, Va. (Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Darron Salzer)

Army Capt. Yolanda O. Lee, who served in Takrit, Iraq, in 2005, talks to a reporter before a reception to honor Iraq War veterans in Crystal City, Va., Feb. 29, 2012. Lee, assigned to the D.C. Army National Guard, later joined other Iraq War Veterans at a dinner at the White House in their honor. (DOD photo by Linda Hosek)

SPC Janice Flores, one of eight National Guard members selected to have dinner with the Obamas at the White House, speaks to media Feb. 29, 2012 in Arlington, Va. View the finished product from Guam Pacific Daily News here: (Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Darron Salzer)




A guest at "A Nation's Gratitude Dinner," hosted by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, snaps a cell phone photo of Vice President Joe Biden at the White House. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and the chiefs of the five services and National Guard and Reserve also attended the dinner. (Photo by Sgt. Mark Fayloga)