Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press
President Barack Obama smiles at new citizens during a naturalization ceremony for active duty service members and civilians, Friday, July 4, 2014, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Obama highlighted a positive side of the immigration debate by presiding over an Independence Day citizenship ceremony for service members who signed up to defend the U.S. even though they weren't American citizens.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says the extraordinary sacrifices by U.S. service members are keeping America safe and free.

And he says there's no other group of people that he and first lady Michelle Obama would rather spend time with on the Fourth of July than America's men and women in uniform.

Obama addressed a crowd of hundreds of military families gathered on the White House South Lawn on Friday for an all-American barbecue and concert sponsored by the USO. Music will be provided by the rapper Pitbull. The families will also get to see the fireworks on the National Mall.

Obama noted that July Fourth is always a special day for his family for reasons apart from the nation's founding.

It's the birthday of his older daughter, Malia. She turned 16.