- The Washington Times - Friday, January 2, 2009

HONOLULU | President-elect Barack Obama will have a Commander in Chief’s Ball during his inauguration with military personnel, their spouses and those wounded fighting in the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as guests.

In the announcement Thursday, officials said that tickets for the Jan. 20 military-only ball will be free to guests. The formal event will be at the National Building Museum in Washington.

“It is a privilege to honor our men and women in uniform during our inaugural festivities by continuing the tradition of the Commander in Chief’s Ball. Our troops represent the best America has to offer, and without their dedication and sacrifice, we would not be able to enjoy the freedoms that we are coming together to celebrate on January 20,” Mr. Obama said in a statement released while he vacationed in his native Hawaii.

“They deserve our thanks and our gratitude. Michelle and I look forward to attending the Commander in Chief’s Ball and sharing this special evening with representatives of our armed forces,” his statement said.

Aides say most of the guests will be enlisted personnel and junior officers. Others will be active-duty military members, active-duty National Guard and National Guard Reserve members. The guest list also will feature those injured in military action, families of those killed in combat and spouses of those deployed.

Mr. Obama and wife, Michelle, are scheduled to attend 10 official inaugural balls. Scores of other events are planned for the celebration, and crowds variously estimated as high as in the millions are expected to descend on Washington.

President Bush first held the ball honoring the uniformed services in 2005.

Officials have not determined how tickets will be distributed.

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