Yesterday, the country celebrated its birthday and in White house tradition, President Obama hosted US military families and thanked them for their service. The event was filled with laughter, tributes and new memories. It was an especially special occasion for the President who was also celebrating the birthday of his firstborn daughter, Malia who officially became a teen yesterday.

Turning 13, Malia Obama was all smiles as she stood next to her mother and father. Nearly Michelle Obama’s height at 5 feet 11 inches, the eldest first daughter has come a long way since her days in pastel sweater dresses and hair bows.

The day is a milestone not only for Malia (who is now three years away from getting her drivers license) but also for her father who has expressed his angst over seeing his little girl grow up, saying:

“I could not ask for better kids. I’m not anticipating complete mayhem for the next four, five years. But I understand teenage-hood is complicated.”

At the barbeque, Malia and her family hosted over 1200 military families and marked Independence Day with games, food and a more relaxed vibe than is typical of most days at the White House. Speaking to the families, President Obama said:

“This day is possible because of your service. And so I think it’s only appropriate that we give you a chance to celebrate it together as well,” he said to hundreds of troops and their families….after all that you do for our country every day, we wanted to give you guys a chance to get out of the uniform, relax a little bit and have some fun.”

And have fun they did. Military children could be seen running around the White House lawn and covering their faces with patriotic face paint. Their parents enjoyed hamburgers, hot dogs, corn and ice cream at tables covered in red, white and blue.

Yesterday’s celebration was the Obama family’s third 4th of July celebration in their time at the White House.

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