By Geneva Sands - 03/01/12 03:13 PM EST
Veterans from all ranks and services who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn were in attendance at the dinner, along with their families.
"This evening, we welcome, not the statesmen who decide great questions of war and peace, but citizens — men and women from every corner of our country, from every rank of our military, every branch of our service — who answer the call, who go to war, who defend the peace," Obama said.
"As your commander in chief, I could not be more proud of you. As an American, as a husband and father of two daughters, I could not be more grateful for your example of the kind of country we can be," Obama said.
The evening wasn't without a few laughs. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, who opened the evening's remarks, said that at his wife's urging he would refrain from singing at the event.
Following Dempsey's speech, Vice President Biden couldn't resist egging on the general and the president during the opening of his own speech.
"I came because I was expecting a duet tonight," said Biden to laughter from the crowd. "I thought maybe we were going to hear you and my Irish friend actually sing, Mr. President. I’m betting on you."
Obama got attention last month when he broke into song at the historic Apollo Theater in New York City, belting out a line from Al Green's hit "Let's Stay Together."
He again made headlines for his vocal talents when he joined B.B. King for a rendition of "Sweet Home Chicago" at last week's "In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues" event.
The president responded Wednesday, saying, "I do have to say, despite Deanie’s advice, I thought Dempsey was going to bust into song."
"You have not lived until you hear him belt out an Irish ballad. His voice is better than mine."
Dempsey has also been known to show off his musical abilities. After some prodding he wowed a packed ballroom with a version of “Christmas in Killarney" in December.