President Obama told volunteers participating in a Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. service project that this year’s celebration of the late civil rights leader's life is particularly poignant in the wake of the Arizona shooting rampage that left six dead.
With First Lady Michelle Obama and his daughters, Obama dropped by Stuart Hobson Middle School, just miles form the White House, and joined volunteers who were spending the day painting the school’s lunchroom.
"This is part of what America is all about,” said Obama, who did some time painting himself. “And after a painful week where so many of us were focused on tragedy it’s good for us to remind ourselves of what this country's all about. This kind of service project is what's best in us. We're thrilled with everybody who's participating."
Obama is just one of many administration officials participating in service projects throughout the country today.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is scheduled to take part in an MLK Day parade in Los Angeles. Education Secretary Arne Duncan delivered the keynote address at a breakfast at the National Action Network, run by Rev. Al Sharpton, and participated in a service project at Kramer Middle School in Southeast D.C. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and White House Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes joined students from Ballou Senior High School and George Washington University in the District of Columbia who were spending the painting murals and covering up graffiti.
Today also happens to be Michelle Obama’s birthday and volunteers serenaded her with "Happy Birthday" upon her arrival. She turned 47.