Celebrities are pouring into Washington at a record rate, arriving to goody bags in high-end hotels (The Ritz in Georgetown is offering a red-white-and-blue package of Michelle Obama’s shortbread cookies) and occasional autograph-seekers in hotel lobbies. The biggest challenge for many is which of the 80 inaugural events to go to – from the Green Inaugural Ball hosted by former Vice President Al Gore at the Mellon Auditorium to the 2.0 Lincoln Ball at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where Abraham Lincoln celebrated his inauguration in 1865.
But some celebrities are also making their way to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to visit soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. And this weekend saw visits from comedian Michael Colyar (“The King of Venice Beach”), and that comedian soon-to-be-senator Al Franken. This week brings CSI’s Marg Helgenberger and singers James Taylor and Josh Groban.
Joining them Monday was President-elect Barack Obama, who made a surprise visit to 14 patients injured in Iraq or Afghanistan. A little more than one day before his swearing in, Obama spent two hours at the medical center, no news footage allowed.
“These American soldiers are real heroes in every sense of the word,” said Colonel (Dr.) Norvell Coots, hospital commander at Reed. “It’s a tremendous thrill for them to get to met their personal heroes. It’s good for morale, good for the spirit, good in the healing process.”