NANTUCKET, Mass. (AP) – President Joe Biden on Thursday wished Americans a Happy Thanksgiving and closer to normal, the second celebrated in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, in remarks welcoming the resumption of holiday traditions by millions of families – including his own.
“As we give thanks for what we have, we also hold in our hearts those who have been lost and those who have lost so much,” the President said in a videotaped greeting with First Lady Jill Biden at the White House before their trip. in Nantucket, Massachusetts, for vacation.
On the island, the Bidens visited the Coast Guard station at Brant Point to virtually meet with U.S. military personnel from around the world and station personnel. “I’m not kidding when I say I’m grateful for these guys,” the President said when asked what he was grateful for, referring to the Coast Guard members standing straight in front of him on the ground then that he was leaving.
Reporters were kept out of the room for Biden’s virtual remarks, apparently due to limited space in the building. Supporters greeted and applauded as Biden’s motorcade walked the narrow cobblestone streets of the island to and from the Coast Guard complex.
Biden, whose late son Beau was a major in the Delaware Army National Guard, said he has watched U.S. servicemen in action around the world, from the South China Sea to Iraq and the Afghanistan to South America. He said that when foreigners wonder what America is, “they don’t see us here,” that is, civilians. “They see them,” he said of members of the Coast Guard and other branches of the US military. “It makes me proud.”
From Nantucket, the Bidens also called for Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, joking briefly on air with NBC broadcaster Al Roker. Stranded a year ago, spectators lined up again on the course in Manhattan as some 8,000 participants joined the parade. Parade employees and volunteers were to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear masks.
Biden and his wife began spending Thanksgiving in Nantucket before their wedding in 1977, as they were looking for a way not to choose which family to spend it with. They did not visit in 2015 after Beau died earlier that year from brain cancer at the age of 46, nor in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic ended. at large family gatherings.
Instead, Biden dined at his home in Delaware last year with just his wife, daughter Ashley, and husband.
But this year, the president joined the millions of Americans celebrating the holiday with large groups of loved ones. Biden’s whole family flew with him Tuesday night on Air Force One to pick up the Thanksgiving tradition: his wife; his son Hunter and his wife, Melissa and their grandson Beau; daughter Ashley; and her grandchildren Naomi, Finnegan, Maisy, Natalie and the young Hunter, as well as Naomi’s fiancé, Peter Neal.
Naomi Biden and her fiance rode their bikes on a local path just before her grandfather’s SUV left the secluded house where the family is staying. The house is owned by David Rubenstein, billionaire philanthropist and co-founder of private equity firm Carlyle Group.
Biden’s visit, his first as president, is very different from his previous vacation here when he was a United States Senator and then Vice President. Then he could have been seen walking around the city center.
Biden lost much of his freedom to travel on his own when he became president and now travels with a large group of security personnel, the White House and other officials, as well as reporters. Each of his public actions is closely watched by the US secret service and other law enforcement agencies.
Jill Biden was heard telling members of the Coast Guard that she would see them again Friday night at the annual Nantucket Christmas tree lighting, another Biden tradition.
“We are all going together,” she said of her family. The tree-lighting ceremony is where Beau Biden proposed to his wife, Hallie, in 2001. They were married on the island the following year.
Biden is expected to return to the White House on Sunday.
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