Mr. Obama and Family Members Honor Grandmother
President-elect Barack Obama and his family, his sister, Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng and her family along with their friends attended a private memorial service at the First Unitarian Church in Nuuanu, Hawai'i on Dec.23, Tuesday afternoon for their grandmother, whom they called "Toot," after the Hawaiian name for grandparent, Tutu.
The White House press corps that's traveling with Obama on his third O'ahu visit of the year was not allowed into the First Unitarian Church for an hour-long service in memory of Madelyn Dunham, who died of cancer at the age of 86 just two days before Obama's presidential victory.
According to the local residents in the neighborhood, there were a lot of police and Secret Service agents around the church. The song, "Wind Beneath My Wings" could be heard according to some people.
Most of the residents were surprised and excited to get an up-close look at the President-elect and his family.
After the memorial service, Mr.Obama and his sister, Dr. Soetoro-Ng and their families drove out to Kalanianaole Highway to scatter Mrs. Dunham's ashes in the same place that they had once scattered their mother, Ms. Stanley Ann Dunham's ashes.
And media were not allowed to accompany Mr. Obama, his sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, her husband, and Mr. Obama's immediate family of wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia as they picked their way down to LÅna'i Lookout and its wave-swept, rocky shoreline today afternoon.
During Mr. Obama's campaign for the presidency, Mrs. Dunham represented the last close adult figure from his childhood after already losing his mother, father and grandfather.
In his first public comments after Mrs. Dunham's death, Mr. Obama told a crowd in Charlotte, N.C. that she was a "quiet hero."
"Some of you heard that my grandmother who helped raise me passed away early this morning,"
Mr. Obama said to supporters after her death. "She has gone home. She died peacefully in her sleep with my sister at her side and so, there's great joy as well as tears. I'm not going to talk about it too long because it's hard to talk about. I want everybody to know, though, about her. Her name is Madelyn Dunham. She was born in Kansas in a small town in 1922, which means she lived through the Great Depression, she lived through two world wars."
Mr. Obama called Mrs. Dunham "a very humble person and a very plain-spoken person."
She was like other "quiet heroes we have all across America," Mr. Obama said, "They're not famous. Their names aren't in the newspaper. But each and every day they work hard. They watch out for their families. They sacrifice for their families. ... That's what America's about. That's what we're fighting for."
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