WASHINGTON -- President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama appeared at the first of two official inaugural balls on Monday night.
The Commander in Chief's Ball, which began at 6 p.m. at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, honors service members and their families.
Speaking just before 9 p.m., Obama thanked servicemen and women from around the world before dancing with the first lady to Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," performed by Jennifer Hudson.
Obama told them the biggest cheer he got during his inaugural speech to the crowd on the National Mall was when he spoke about – quote – "the extraordinary men and women in uniform" who are keeping the country strong.
He told them they should know that – quote – "You will be on our minds tonight and every single night until our mission in Afghanistan is completed." He promised them they would get the equipment and support they need.
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Alicia Keys, Brad Paisley, Chris Cornell, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson and Marc Anthony were scheduled performers.
Obama reduced the number of official balls for the 2013 Inauguration. After attending 10 balls in 2009, Inauguration planners told the AP that this year's more modest schedule of events is a reflection of the nation's tough economic times.
The Commander in Chief's Ball is adjacent to the official Inaugural Ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.