President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden traveled to Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton, Virginia on Friday to thank U.S. troops and their families for their service to the country.
The Bidens have a long personal relationship with the military. Dr. Biden’s father, Donald Jacobs, served in the Navy during World War II; President Joe Biden’s son Beau Biden, who Jill also raised, served in the United States Army and the Delaware Army National Guard before his death from brain cancer in 2015.
“Our military is a community bound by love,” Dr Biden told those gathered on Friday. “Love for our country, love for the men and women who serve by your side, or the members of the service in your life. And love for the communities that you have all built together. “
“It is time for our nation to match this dedication,” added the first lady, referring to the Joining Forces initiative that she and then-first lady Michelle Obama created nearly ten years ago.
The initiative, said Dr Biden, remains “one of the [her] priorities today, ”and the first lady continued to push for new projects during her first few months in the White House.
Education, employment and are the three main pillars of the renewed program, which aims not only to support ex-combatants or those currently serving in the military, but also their family members and communities.
After beginning with a moving memory of his late son Beau, a veteran, Biden acknowledged the unannounced sacrifices made by servicemen and their families.
“You are the best that America has to offer,” Biden said.
Biden also highlighted his recent decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan later this year, expressing his gratitude to servicemen who completed multiple periods of service during America’s longest war.
He also said the country must “never forget the terrible cost we have paid as a nation” during the 20 years of conflict.
“Many of you have probably lost friends or colleagues in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Biden said. “I know this is personal to you, especially as we head into Memorial Day weekend. As a nation, we will always remember and honor those we have lost. ”
The President concluded where Dr Biden started: by thanking the soldiers and their families for their service.
“Thank you for spending this time with me today. And thank you for your commitment to our country, ”said the president. “You are the backbone of America.”
Earlier today, the president and the first lady visited a climbing gym in northern Virginia alongside Governor Ralph Northam, who recently lifted all COVID-19 distance and capacity restrictions on private businesses.
Biden sought to use the Friday stop at Sportrock climbing centers – an 18,000 square foot space of climbing walls and boulders, a gym and yoga studios – to celebrate the progress made as the country is looking to turn the corner on the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 593,000 Americans and 3.5 million people worldwide.
“Across the country, we’ve gone from the pain and stagnation of a long, dark winter to an economy on the move,” Biden said. He added, “Americans of all parties, races, creeds have come together and rolled up their sleeves – literally – and done their part.”