Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden will be in Nantucket, Massachusetts on Thanksgiving, but on Monday evening, they opened the Naval Observatory, their home in Washington, DC, to special guests for an early holiday dinner.
Nine wounded warriors from the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps, and their families, joined the Bidens around two long tables squeezed into the dining room of the Naval Observatory. Five were in wheelchairs, and many had prosthetic arms or legs. (Above: The Vice President during the dinner)
The Vice President opened the evening by telling the families that their children could walk around the house as they pleased.
"This is a kid friendly home," Biden said. "We're grandparents."
In welcoming remarks that lasted about five minutes, the Vice President thanked the troops for attending the dinner, saying he and Dr. Biden were "flattered" and "humbled."
“There’s no way of really thanking you all for the incredible sacrifices you’ve made on behalf of your country,” Biden said. “This is our humble attempt to say thanks."
“Our only regret is that we can’t have 10,000 of your comrades here who have made similar sacrifices,” Biden added.
He quoted English poet John Milton, saying “‘They also serve who only stand and wait.’”
“Your loved ones, when you were in harm’s way, every single day they served this country too,” Biden said. “So we owe the families a debt of gratitude.”
The Vice President also said the nation has a "a truly sacred obligation" to provide wounded troops with the best possible care, and that the Obama administration would honor that commitment.
"This obligation is real," Biden said.
Many of the guests are still in treatment for their combat injuries, and their families are staying at a local Fisher House, which serve as a “home away from home” for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers in the US and around the world. (Above: Dr. Biden chats with a guest during the dinner)
Dr. Biden also made brief remarks welcoming the troops, and noted that her son, Beau Biden, a captain in the Delaware Army National Guard, had been deployed to Iraq for nearly a year in 2008.
“I know what it means to all those thousands of families who look down their table this Thanksgiving,” Dr. Biden said. “And someone they love is missing because that loved one is in Iraq or Afghanistan.”
Father Kevin O'Brien, executive director of the Georgetown Campus Ministry, said the blessing before the dinner. The Bidens hosted a similar event on Nov. 23, 2009.
The Vice President's office released the menu for the Thanksgiving dinner:
Virginia Apple Cider Brined Roast Turkey with Cider Gravy
Mashed Sweet & Gold Potatoes
Garlic & Butter Green Beans
Fall Harvest Salad
Candied Orange-Cranberry Sauce
Butter Cross Whole Wheat Rolls and
Tangerine & Fennel Marinated Olives
Caramel Pumpkin Pie w/ Mile-High Whipped Cream
Thanksgiving Pecan Pie
Spicy-Candied Pumpkin Seeds