WASHINGTON - Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, hosted an early Thanksgiving feast for wounded warriors and their families in their home at the U.S. Naval Observatory here Nov. 21.
With turkeys and trimmings steaming on the tables, the Bidens kept their remarks short, but both expressed their appreciation for service members' sacrifices.
The vice president told the guests that the service members at the dinner number among "the finest group of warriors that the world has ever seen."
Among the group of about 30 service members and family members was the Bidens' son, Army Maj. Beau Biden of the Delaware Army National Guard.
Most of the service members had been wounded in combat in Afghanistan, and one in Iraq. Some were in wheelchairs and others bore less-visible wounds of war. Yet, all already have shouldered more responsibility than most people do in a lifetime, the vice president said, noting the nation owes them a debt of gratitude.
"We have a lot of obligations as a country," Biden said. "We have obligations to the young, the old, [and] the infirm. We have only one true sacred obligation, and that is to provide for those of you we send into harm's way and give you every single solitary thing that you could possibly need to make the transition back home reasonable and workable. It's the only truly, truly sacred obligation we have."
Dr. Biden also noted her gratitude for the troops. As Americans pause to reflect this Thanksgiving, she said, they should keep in mind the nation's service members and their families, particularly those troops who will be away from home over the holidays.
As a military mom, Biden said, she understands what it's like to weather the holidays without a loved one. Her son deployed to Iraq for nearly a year in 2008.
"I know what it was like to look down our family table and see my son missing," she said. "I know what you families have gone through when your loved ones are deployed, and I know what it feels like. ... I know how other families are feeling this Thanksgiving."
Biden said she and First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Joining Forces campaign earlier this year to raise awareness of the sacrifices troops and their families make and to call on all sectors of society to support them. They'd like to make Americans aware of the "sacrifice and strength and resilience of all of our military families," she said.
After their remarks, the Bidens sat down, each at a separate table, to talk one-on-one with the troops and their families.
The vice president thanked his guests for coming, picked up a salad bowl and started serving the Marine sitting next to him. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. William Carpenter was injured by an enemy hand grenade Nov. 21, 2010, while deployed in Marja, Afghanistan.
In the next room, Dr. Biden settled in between Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Joshua Misiewicz and Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joseph Deslauriers. Deslauriers lost both of his legs and an arm in a roadside bomb attack in Afghanistan in September. Misiewicz stepped on a roadside bomb July 20 while on patrol near Sangin, Afghanistan, and lost both of his legs above the knee.
Misiewicz and his mother, Nancy, spoke to reporters shortly after the meal began.
"This is so nice," he said. "It shows a lot of people care."
His mom echoed the sentiment. "Nothing compares to a home-cooked meal," she said.
This is the third year the Bidens have hosted a dinner for wounded warriors.