01/21/2013 09:54 pm ET Updated Jan 22, 2013

Commander In Chief's Ball 2013: President, First Lady Appear At First Of Two Official Balls (PHOTOS)

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.

According to The Associated Press:

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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Commander In Chief's Ball

Alicia Keys, Brad Paisley, Chris Cornell, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson and Marc Anthony were scheduled performers.

Celebrity baker Duff Goldman, of the Food Network show "Ace of Cakes," made a cake for this gala. He told NPR that the patriotic cake would have six tiers with "a lot of stars and stripes" on it.

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.