Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited Marines and sailors aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina Monday evening to celebrate Friendsgiving.
“The American people have no idea the sacrifices you’re making,” the president said before dishing out dinner to the troops. “One percent of you represents 99% of the public; you’re all volunteers, you all just show up, and you’re always there.”
Some 400 service members and their families sat down for dinner with the Bidens to enjoy a meal — turkey and ham with sides including stuffing and mashed potatoes — prepared by celebrity chef Robert Irvine and food service Marines.
Earlier in the day, the president pardoned two North Carolina-bred turkeys on the South Lawn as part of a decades-long White House Thanksgiving tradition.
Staff Sgt. Mark Morrow/Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point
The dinner happened in collaboration with the White House’s Joining Forces Initiative, a program that supports military members and their families. Maj. Joshua Schubert told NPR that most of the Marines and sailors are junior enlisted members serving under the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force and made the trip from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
The first lady told those in attendance that she and the president know what it’s like to be away from family during the holidays.
“We are a military family. My dad was Navy; our son was Army. So, we actually know what its like to be away from your family on Thanksgiving,” the first lady said. “So even though you’re away from your families at home and your home states, we know that you’re here with your family here, because military is family.”
There is a long-standing history of presidents of visiting with troops around Thanksgiving. Last November, Biden traveled to Fort Bragg, N.C., for an early Thanksgiving meal with soldiers and families.
Former President Donald Trump spent Thanksgiving in 2019 visiting troops overseas in Afghanistan, but in 2020, according to Reuters, performed a video call to service members from the White House in lieu of an in-person visit.