WASHINGTON D.C. — President and Michelle Obama paid a formal tribute to Iraq War veterans at an intimate dinner at the White House Wednesday night and one of the few invited honorees is from Aurora.
Sergeant John-Mark Gladstone of the United States Marine Corp. was one of the 78 hand-picked service members selected from across the country. Sergeant Gladstone represented the state of Colorado and the 1.5 million men and women who served in Iraq during the nearly nine-year war.
“I have different emotions going on right now. I feel very appreciated,” said Sgt. Gladstone via satellite interview from Washington D.C. with FOX31 Denver. “I’m very proud and humbled to serve at the same time.”
White House officials called Wednesday’s dinner “the beginning of a thank you.”
Seventy-eight troops from across the nation represented the more than one million Americans and their families who served and made sacrifices for the Iraq war.
“Now I can tell you we are very proud of him,” says John-Mark Gladstone, Sgt Gladstone’s father who lives in Aurora.
“He said, ‘Dad I`m going to have dinner with the president.’ I said, ‘hey do you have a second person to go with you?’” Gladstone jokes.
Sergeant Gladstone is a native of Ghana and has only been in the U.S. for seven years. After tours in Iraq he is now fulfilling his service at the Pentagon.
“It’s about five years that he rose up the ranks to sergeant. So we are just so proud of him for what he has done,” his father says.
Celebrating the end of a war with a formal White House dinner is a first for any presidential administration. Being selected to be a part of it is an honor for the entire Gladstone family.
“We don’t take it lightly. We are thankful to the all mighty God for what he has done for him,” says his mother Mercy Gladstone.
“The one person I am looking forward to meeting the first lady. I feel she has been doing a good job with the service members, veterans and the spouses,” says Sgt. Gladstone.