President Joe Biden’s recent visit to naval installations in Virginia marked a significant prelude to the Thanksgiving holiday week. This visit encompassed a range of activities, including the introduction of an early screening of the new movie “Wonka” and sharing a “Friendsgiving” meal with military service members and their families.
The President, along with First Lady Jill Biden, attended a packed auditorium at Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads to present the new film, which delves into the early life of Roald Dahl’s famed character, Willy Wonka. This film is set for official release on December 15th.
During this event, President Biden humorously remarked to the young audience that he preferred the company of children over adults, expressing a wish to join them for the movie screening but noting his inability to stay. However, instead of watching the film, the Bidens participated in serving dinner to service members from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and the USS Gerald R. Ford at Norfolk Naval Station.
This station is renowned as the world’s largest of its kind. Around 400 service members and their relatives were present at the event, held in a hangar adorned with Blackhawk helicopters, a grand American flag, and a screen displaying a White House image with the words “Happy Thanksgiving.” The President emphasized the crucial role of military members, acknowledging them as the nation’s backbone.
During the meal, President Biden actively engaged in serving mashed potatoes, while First Lady Jill Biden distributed sweet potato casserole. They were assisted by Chef Robert Irvine, whose foundation played a key role in organizing the meal. The menu was a lavish spread, featuring delicacies like slow-roasted turkey, smoked ham, brioche-cornbread stuffing, and a variety of desserts.
A touching moment occurred when a child asked Jill Biden a question, leading her to serve a portion of the casserole comprised entirely of marshmallows. The atmosphere was light-hearted and warm, with the Bidens interacting with numerous attendees, especially children.
The visit took a somber turn when the Bidens announced the passing of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter. They asked the attendees to remember the Carter family in their prayers during the holiday season. President Biden, while expressing his condolences, highlighted the Carters’ grace and integrity, noting their 77-year marriage and Jimmy Carter’s continued service post-presidency.
Additionally, President Biden reflected on his personal connection to the military, recalling the deployment of his late son Beau Biden in Iraq. However, the President became visibly emotional when discussing watching Beau’s children during his deployment and chose to divert the conversation.
“Happy, happy Thanksgiving,” Biden said. “May God love you all.”
The Bidens’ involvement in the Friendsgiving tradition with military members extends beyond this event. In the previous year, they participated in a similar meal at Cherry Point, North Carolina, home to a significant military population. Their visit to Fort Bragg for an early Thanksgiving meal also stands out as a memorable event, where they interacted with about 250 service members and their families.
The President and First Lady are planning to spend this Thanksgiving on Nantucket, continuing their tradition of celebrating the holiday in a meaningful way. This visit, encompassing both joyful and solemn moments, exemplifies their ongoing commitment to supporting and honoring military families and the sacrifices they make.