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January 21, 2013

Boehner presents Obama, Biden with flags at luncheon

Inauguration Day is one of those times when the political fighting stops, and Monday, congressional leaders, President Barack Obama and others joined together for lunch in Congress' Statuary Hall.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, presented Obama and Vice President Joe Biden with flags that had flown over the Capitol earlier in the day, during their inauguration.

Here are Boehner's remarks at the luncheon:

"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Old Hall of the House.  The people’s representatives met in this chamber over the five decades prior to the Civil War.

“It’s a wonder they made it here that long.  See, the acoustics were terrible.   You just couldn’t hear anything.  Or, in some spots, you could hear everything being said in the room.  It was a mess.  And that, of course, was a time when our leaders weren’t hearing each other all that well to begin with.

“A century and a half – and many architectural improvements later – we gather in the Old Hall to better hear one another and renew the old appeal to better angels.  We do so amid the rituals and symbols of unity, none more enduring than our flag. 

“This year, Old Glory will mark a milestone of her own.  It was in the spring of 1813 that the new commander at Fort McHenry ordered a flag to be flown over the entrance to Baltimore Harbor.  ‘It should be so large,’ he said, ‘that the British will have no difficulty in seeing it from a distance.’

For such an enormous banner, a mother-and-daughter team had to stitch together overlapping strips of wool to make the product a complete whole.  From many, one.  So a grand old flag was born, and not long after, an anthem to go with it.  Today, wherever we put out the flag, whenever he hear it snapping in the wind, it gives proof of the blessing we call democracy – this symphony of service and faithfulness in which we all play a part.

“So in the spirit of harmony, I am proud to present the flags that flew over this battalion of democracy today to President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.  To you gentlemen, I say congratulations and Godspeed.”


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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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