WASHINGTON — With “Hail to the Chief” playing, President Joe Biden emerged from the White House on Sunday night to reflect on the past year and expressed hope for the future in a Fourth of July holiday celebration.
Speaking to a crowd of 1,000 first responders and military families, Biden reflected where the country was a year ago and praised the country for getting the virus under control by getting shots in their arms.
“This year, the Fourth of July is a day of special celebration. For we are emerging from the darkness of years. A year pandemic and isolation. A year of pain, fear and heartbreaking loss. Just think back to where this nation was a year ago. Think back to where you were a year ago. And think about how far we’ve come,” Biden said.
The White House acknowledged the country would miss the President’s goal of 70 percent of Americans getting at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine by three percent. Biden also warned the fight against the virus is not over and told Americans to remain cautious.
“Thanks to our heroic vaccine effort, we’ve gained the upper hand against this virus. We can live our lives, our kids can go back to school, our economy is roaring back. Don’t get me wrong. Covid-19 has not been vanquished. We all know powerful variants have emerged like the Delta variant,” Biden said.
“But the best defense against these variants is to get vaccinated. My fellow Americans, it’s the most patriotic thing you can do. So please, if you haven’t gotten vaccinated. Do it. Do it now. For yourself, for your loved ones, for your community, and for your country. You know, that is how we’ll stay ahead of these variants and protect the hard-won progress we’ve made.”
“We never again want to be where we were a year ago today,” he added, with a wagging finger. “So today, while the virus hasn’t been vanquished, we know this: It no longer controls our lives. It no longer paralyzes our nation. And it is within our power to make sure it never does again.”
The White House said everyone that attended the celebration on Sunday was tested for Covid-19 before the event and were told to wear masks if they are not fully vaccinated, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
White House Covid-19 response coordinator, Jeffrey Zients, said Sunday on ABC the White House did not need to require those attending the first big party since Biden took office to be fully vaccinated.
“I think most of these folks are vaccinated,” Zients said. “But at the end of the day, it’s an individual choice, we hope all individuals make the right choice here and get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
The country’s political divisions has also caused division on vaccination views, which led Biden to speak a message of unity, urging the country to come together and defeat the virus once and for all.
“You know, history tells us, when we stand together, when we unite in common cause, when we see ourselves not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans, then there is simply no limit to what we can achieve. None. Today we see the results of the unity of purpose. The unity of purpose we are forging — we’re our nation,” Biden said.
“For together we’re beating the virus,” he continued. “Together we’re breathing life into our economy. Together we will rescue our people from division and despair. But together we must do it. Over the past year, we’ve lived through some of our darkest days. Now I truly believe, I give my word, we are about to see our bright future.”
The theme of the White House celebration was “America’s Back Together”, promoting a return to normalcy as more Americans get vaccinated. After he concluded his remarks, the Washington sky was lit up with fireworks in the night sky.
Biden along with his family watched the light show from the White House balcony as his grandchildren hugged him and took pictures with their phones documenting the moment.
“It’s never, ever been a good bet to bet against America. Never!” Biden said Sunday. “We just have to remember who we are. We are the United States of America. And there is nothing — nothing we can’t do if we do it together.”