US President Joe Biden on Friday wished Americans a happy and closer-to-normal Thanksgiving, the second celebrated in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, in remarks welcoming the resumption of holiday traditions by millions of US families — including his own.
“As we give thanks for what we have, we also keep in our hearts those who have been lost and those who have lost so much,” the president said in a videotaped greeting recorded with first lady Jill Biden at the White House before their trip to Nantucket, Massachusetts, for the holiday.
On the island, the Bidens visited the Coast Guard station at Brant Point to meet with personnel there and virtually with US service members from around the world.
“I’m not joking when I say I’m thankful for these guys,” the president said when asked what he was thankful for, referring to the Coast Guard members standing ramrod straight before him on the grounds as he departed.
Reporters were kept out of the room for Biden’s virtual remarks, apparently because of tight space in the building. Well-wishers waved and cheered as Biden's motorcade navigated the island's narrow paved and cobblestone streets to and from the Coast Guard compound.
Biden, whose late son Beau was a major in the Delaware Army National Guard, said he has watched US service members in action around the world, from the South China Sea and Iraq and Afghanistan to South America.
He said when foreigners wonder what America is, “they don't see us here,” meaning civilians. “They see them,” he said of members of the Coast Guard and the other branches of the US military. “It makes me proud.”
From Nantucket, the Biden's also called in to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, briefly bantering on air with NBC broadcaster Al Roker. Shut out a year ago, spectators again lined the route in Manhattan as some 8000 participants joined the parade. Parade employees and volunteers had to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and wear masks.
The extended first family went traditional for their Thanksgiving menu: roasted turkey, stuffing using a grandmother's recipe and other fixings. Dessert was three kinds of pie, and — in no surprise to those who followed Biden in and out of ice cream shops on the campaign trail — chocolate chip ice cream.
Biden is expected to return to the White House on Monday.