Obama Memorial Day Speech Cut Short By Rain, Lightning

ELWOOD, Ill. -- Torrential rain, lightning, thunder and strong winds forced President Barack Obama to cancel a Memorial Day speech at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Illinois.

Obama took the stage at midday under the cover of a large umbrella to tell thousands of people who came to hear him speak that "a little rain never hurt anybody but we don't want anybody struck by lightning."

He asked people to return to their cars for safety.

Obama waited out the storm in the cemetery's administration building. He later boarded a pair of buses to greet military families that came for the ceremony.

According to White House spokesman Bill Burton, Obama personally made the decision to warn people in the open field to take shelter. From the pool report:

Scenes from the great storm: People trudging barefoot across flooded fields, taking shelter in available vehicles. The wreath Obama laid earlier blown over. Flash flood-type pools of water on the road. Sharp bursts of lightning. Everyone, needless to say, is drenched.


Obama spoke at the Lincoln cemetery in 2005 when he was a U.S. senator. Lincoln created the system of national cemeteries during the Civil War.