5 Photos: The President Awards the Medal of Honor to Sergeant William Shemin and Private Henry Johnson

Today, in a ceremony at the White House, President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously to Army Sergeant William Shemin and Army Private Henry Johnson for conspicuous gallantry during World War I.

Sergeant Shemin entered the Army on October 2, 1917. He was assigned as a rifleman to Company G, 47th Infantry Regiment, which moved from Syracuse, New York to Camp Greene, North Carolina, joining the 4th Infantry Division. The Division arrived in France in May, 1918.

Private Johnson entered the Army on June 5, 1917. He was assigned to Company C, 15th New York (Colored) Infantry Regiment, an all-black National Guard unit that would later become the 369th Infantry Regiment. The Regiment was ordered into battle in 1918, and Private Johnson and his unit were brigaded with a French Army colonial unit in front-line combat.

Take a look at five photos from today's ceremony -- and then read more about Sgt. Shemin and Pvt. Johnson's heroic actions.

Command Sergeant Major Louis Wilson accepts the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama awarded posthumously to Army Private Henry Johnson for conspicuous gallantry during World War I, at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, June 2, 2015.

Command Sergeant Major Louis Wilson accepts the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama awarded posthumously to Army Private Henry Johnson for conspicuous gallantry during World War I, at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, June 2, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Weekly Address: Pass the USA Freedom Act

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, May 29, 2015.

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, May 29, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

In this week's address, the President addressed critical pieces of national security business that remained unfinished when the Senate left town. This Sunday at midnight, key tools used to protect against terrorist threats are set to expire. The USA Freedom Act strikes a balance between security and privacy, reauthorizing important measures that give our national security professionals the authorities they use to keep us safe, while also implementing reforms that enhance the privacy and civil liberties of our citizens. But currently, a small group of senators is standing in its way.

The President asked Americans to speak with one voice to the Senate to put politics aside, put the safety of the American people first, and pass the USA Freedom Act now.

Transcript | mp4 | mp3

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This Day in History: John F. Kennedy Was Born

Today in 1917, John F. Kennedy -- the 35th President of the United States, and the first to be born in the 20th century -- was born in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Of Irish descent, President Kennedy was the youngest man to be elected President, and was also the youngest to die.

Graduating from Harvard in 1940, he entered the Navy. In 1943, when his PT boat was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer, Kennedy, despite grave injuries, led the survivors through perilous waters to safety.

Having returned from the war, he became a Democratic Congressman from the Boston area, advancing in 1953 to the Senate. He married Jacqueline Bouvier on September 12, 1953. In 1955, while recuperating from a back operation, he wrote Profiles in Courage, which won the Pulitzer Prize in history. Read more about President Kennedy's life and legacy here.

Aaron Shikler's iconic 1971 portrait of President Kennedy in a contemplative pose hangs in the cross hall in the central corridor of the White House's State Floor.

Watch White House Curator Bill Allman tell the story of that portrait, and how it came to be painted:

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Follow Along: Earth Day 2015

It's Earth Day -- and all day long, we'll be keeping you updated right here with videos, photos, and opportunities to add your voice to the #ActOnClimate conversation. Follow along here for highlights from the President's trip to the Everglades -- and speak up on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using the hashtag #ActOnClimate. We'll be reading and sharing what we hear from you.

Here's what we've got on tap for the day:

This morning, the President is heading to the Florida Everglades along with Bill Nye the Science Guy and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

Heading down to DC to catch an #EarthDay flight on Air Force One tomorrow with the President. We're going to #ActOnClimate.

— Bill Nye (@BillNye) April 21, 2015

At 2:30 p.m. ET, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will hold a Twitter Q&A on Latino public health.

Climate change is impacting our health. Join @GinaEPA, @EnvDefenseFund & @LULAC for a chat at 3:30pm ET tomorrow. #EarthDay #LatinoHealth

— U.S. EPA (@EPA) April 21, 2015

At 3:55 p.m. ET, the President will deliver remarks at Everglades National Park on the threat climate change poses to our economy and the world.

President Obama is headed to @EvergladesNPS on #EarthDay to discuss the need to #ActOnClimate: http://t.co/k8fbW7HGUM pic.twitter.com/sNfDvBi9WM

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) April 20, 2015

 

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Weekly Address: Reaching a Comprehensive and Long-Term Deal on Iran’s Nuclear Program

President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address at Hill Air Force Base in Layton, Utah, April 3, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) In this week’s address, the Pr... Read more »

President Obama: “Our Fight Against Violent Extremism”

Ed. Note: The following op-ed by President Obama appeared in the Los Angeles Times this morning.

The United States has made significant gains against terrorism. We've decimated the core al Qaeda leadership, strengthened homeland security and worked to prevent another large-scale attack like 9/11.

At the same time, the threat has evolved. The al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen actively plots against us. Since 9/11, terrorists have murdered U.S. citizens overseas, including in the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Here in the United States, Americans have been killed at Ft. Hood and during the Boston Marathon.

Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalized to violence is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds.

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Weekly Address: Giving Thanks for Our Troops

In this week's address, the President thanked the men and women in uniform who serve and sacrifice to protect the freedom, prosperity, and security that we all enjoy as Americans. On Monday the President will visit troops at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey and voice his appreciation in person for their incredible service.

These troops, as well as the many who are still overseas, have met every mission they have been tasked with, from bringing a responsible end to our war in Afghanistan, to working to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL, to saving lives by fighting to contain the spread of Ebola. During this holiday season, a time of blessings and gratitude, the President reminded everyone to find a way to thank and serve the members of the military who serve us every day.

Transcript  | mp4 | mp3

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Gary Pollard, Jr.: “One American’s Perspective”

Today, Gary Pollard, Jr. -- a network technician from Washington, D.C. -- sent the message below to the White House email list. Didn't get it? Join millions of Americans and sign up to receive messages from the White House.

I watched the President speak about the economy earlier today -- maybe you did, too.

He talked about how, even though we've rebounded from recession faster than almost every other advanced nation, we've still got a lot of work to do when it comes to rebuilding the middle class.

It's easy to hear that and ask yourself, "What does the President mean when he talks about 'rebuilding the middle class?' Who are those workers? What kind of jobs do they have?"

Well, I'm one of them.

Two years ago, I was a U.S. Army veteran who had been working in the telecommunication industry for 14 years. Then, in August of 2012, I got laid off -- and my family's future suddenly became uncertain. It was a terrifying feeling.

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This Week in History: How Our National Anthem Was Born

Frances Scott Key was a 35-year-old Washington lawyer who'd been opposed to America's entry into the War of 1812 from the beginning. But on the evening of September 13, 1814, he found himself watching as a prisoner on a sailing ship deck as the ships of the world's mightiest navy rained shot and shell down on Fort McHenry, a small fort protecting the city of Baltimore.

The British, having set Washington on fire and raided Alexandria, began heading north toward Baltimore, where they met a Royal Navy fleet headed in from the Chesapeake Bay. They launched their bombardment in the rain.

A view of the bombardment of fort mchenry

This colored etching, depicting the bombardment of Fort McHenry, was created in Philadelphia around 1816. (Photo courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society)

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President Obama: How We’re Responding to the ISIL Threat

Tonight, the following message was sent from President Obama to those signed up to receive updates from the White House, outlining his comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy to degrade and destroy ISIL.

Didn't get the email? Make sure you're signed up to receive updates from the President and other senior Administration officials.

Good evening,

I just addressed the nation about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.

Let’s be clear: While this group may call itself the "Islamic State," it is not "Islamic." No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL's victims have been Muslim. Nor is it a "state." It is not recognized by any government, nor by the people it subjugates.

This is nothing but a terrorist organization with no vision or goal other than to slaughter all who stand in its way. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, these terrorists have threatened America and our allies. And the United States will meet this threat with strength and resolve.

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