President Joe Biden marked his first Christmas in office by calling military service members stationed around the world, offering them holiday greetings and gratitude for their service and sacrifice to the nation.
Joined by his wife, Jill, and their new puppy, Commander, the President spoke via video on Saturday with service members representing the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force and Coast Guard, stationed at bases in Qatar, Romania, Bahrain and the United States
“As commander-in-chief, I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you, thank you, thank you,” he told the military. “We are grateful for your courage, your sacrifice, not only your sacrifice but the sacrifice of your family. “
Speaking from a studio in the White House, Biden told them they are “the solid steel backbone of the nation” and stressed the nation’s “truly sacred obligation” to take care of the soldiers. and their families.
Jill Biden expressed empathy for the difficulties their families are having spending the holidays away from loved ones, noting that the Bidens went through the same thing when their son Beau, who served as a major in the Delaware National Guard, was deployed in Iraq.
The Bidens have planned a relatively quiet Christmas at the White House with the family. On Friday night, the president and the first lady attended the Holy Trinity’s Christmas Eve Mass virtually in the East Room, according to the White House, and hosted a pasta dinner and sleepover with their children and grandchildren. children, a Biden family tradition.
As the coronavirus pandemic resumes, driven by the highly infectious variant of the omicron, the Bidens have sought with their public appearances and statements to deliver a sense of unity and normalcy in an otherwise difficult season for many.
In a Christmas statement, the Bidens praised the “tremendous courage, character, resilience and determination” of the American people in the face of the pandemic, and offered prayers for the nation to find “light in the dark “during a difficult season.
“During this season of joy, we are inspired by the countless Americans who remind us that the things we hold sacred unite us and transcend distance, time and even the stresses of a pandemic,” said the Bidens. in their statement.
And the call to the soldiers was just the last Christmas tradition the two participated in, having spent Christmas Eve spreading holiday cheer around Washington. On Friday morning, they went to the National Children’s Hospital to offer their holiday greetings to young patients and their families. The President showed pictures of their new puppy and Jill read a children’s book to the patients.
The two later pulled up in front of a Jill Biden-themed Christmas tree in the Dupont Circle neighborhood. The president hung the 2021 White House Christmas ornament amid branches adorned with photos of his wife’s face, apples and small chalkboards, in tribute to his teaching career.
The two answered calls from the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s Santa Claus tracking service, telling parents and children about their Christmas wish lists.