January 16th, 2012
12:43 PM ET
WASHINGTON (CNN) –In what has become a tradition on the federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., three-fourths of the First family took part in a service project, this time sprucing up rooms at Browne Education Campus in Washington, D.C.
“Usually Sasha’s here,” President Obama said in brief remarks before rolling up his sleeves. “She couldn’t make it today.”
His handyman skills clearly pushed to the limit, President Obama joked about needing very specific instructions so that “I don’t mess anything up.”
“There’s nobody who can’t serve, nobody who can’t help somebody else,” the president said in what amounted to a call for action. “Whether you’re seven or six or whether you’re 76, then you can find opportunities to make an enormous difference in your community.”
In honoring Dr. King’s service and legacy, President Obama also touched on the controversy surrounding a quote inscribed on the slain civil rights leader’s new monument.
“They’re changing it and making some modifications,” the president said referring to the quote “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.”
Some have been critical and downright angry at the words etched in stone, insisting the quote is not entirely accurate and doesn’t clearly communicate what was actually said: “Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major say that I was a drum major for justice…”
President Obama suggested that the controversy should not overshadow what Dr. King was trying to convey, “that all of us can be a drum major for service, all of us can be a drum major for justice, you know.”
On Sunday the First family celebrated by worshipping at the historic Zion Baptist Church in Washington. They’ll end the holiday with a musical celebration, “Let Freedom Ring,” at the Kennedy Center.