Dr. Biden Welcomes Guard Children
(December 3, 2010)
|WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2010 – I woke up to a torrential downpour today, but even
the rain, and tornado warnings, couldn't dampen my enthusiasm about the day's
events. I was heading to the vice president's residence in Washington, D.C., to
attend a special holiday event.|
Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, was hosting about 50 children,
including 25 from local National Guard families, at the U.S. Naval Observatory.
The day's itinerary included ornament and cookie decorating and letter-writing
to deployed and wounded warriors.
I was in awe when I first walked into the Biden
home. The large foyer already was adorned for
the holiday season with dozens of lit candles,
garland and wreaths decorated with gold, silver
and pale green ornaments. Two soldiers in dark
blue dress uniforms sang carols while a third
accompanied them on the piano.
Dr. Biden, festive in a sleeveless red dress,
walked in with a wave and a smile at the press,
then took her place by the front door. The
children filed in and she greeted each with a
handshake or hug and welcoming words.
To one boy sharply dressed in a suit: “Look at
you. Woo-hoo!” she said with a smile.
The children crowded into the living room
dominated by a 12-foot Christmas tree adorned
mostly in red. Dr. Biden talked to
Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice
President Joe Biden, makes greeting cards for wounded and
deployed soldiers with children at a special holiday event
at the vice president's residence on the grounds of the U.S.
Naval Observatory, Dec. 1, 2010. Of the 50 children Dr.
Biden hosted, about 25 were from local National Guard
families. DOD photo by Linda Hosek
the children about how excited she was to move
into this residence and decorate it in the
Bidens' style. “We like a lot of color,” she
But her favorite part of living there, Dr. Biden said, is having the opportunity
to invite guests over. She then invited two of those guests to the front of the
room: Sheila Casey, wife of Army Chief of Staff Army Gen. George Casey, and
Cheryl McKinley, wife of Gen. Craig McKinley, chief of the National Guard
Mrs. McKinley took time to explain what the National Guard's mission is to the
students who weren't aware. “We really appreciate you all supporting moms and
dads and families,” she told the children.
Dr. Biden showed the children a framed picture of her son, an Army captain in
the Delaware National Guard, with his own son in his arms. “This is when he got
back from Iraq,” she said.
She then asked the National Guard children if they had a parent deployed. Most
of the children knew of someone who was or is deployed, whether a parent, uncle
or family friend. “I know how hard it was for us as a family to have a son
deployed,” she said.
As the children dispersed to the activity stations, Dr. Biden stayed in the
living room to write letters to deployed troops and wounded warriors. She sat on
the floor alongside the children, red dress and all, and crafted a green holiday
card. She stuck red ornament stickers on the front, along with a hand-drawn
Christmas tree, and inside the card she wrote, “Thank you for your service to
our country. Come home safely. Love, Jill Biden XO.”
One girl named Blessing, who sat next to Dr. Biden, wrote, “Thank you for your
service. You risk your life every day so I can live in peace.”
“I can just imagine my son, when he was in Iraq, getting a card,” Dr. Biden
later told me. “It would mean a lot.
“It meant a lot to me that these children are focused on men and women overseas
and want them to come home safely,” she added.
After her card was complete, Dr. Biden moved on to the solarium where children
were writing a wish for the nation in 2011 on red paper reindeer ornaments.
These ornaments were then hung on the “peace” tree in the corner, which was
decorated with white doves.
After a short caroling session, Santa Claus paid a surprise visit to the foyer
and greeted the children with some handshakes and even a fist pump before posing
for some pictures with Dr. Biden and the children.
The children, I noticed, were walking around in awe. “I found out yesterday that
I'd get two treats: one, I get to go to the vice president's house; and two, I
get to skip school,” said Kate Roberts, daughter of Air National Guard Lt. Col.
Andrew Roberts and his wife, Debbie. “This is really cool.”
Ethan McDonald, son of Army National Guard Master Sgt. Marty McDonald and wife,
Trish, told me that he found out about the event a few days ago. “I really
enjoyed this,” he said.
Ethan said decorating cards for servicemembers was the highlight of the day for
him. “I couldn't wish any more than your safe return,” he wrote in his card.
Today, the children gained lifelong memories, Mrs. Casey noted after the event.
“This is fabulous,” she told me. “I'm sure they'll talk about this for a long
time to come.”
Dr. Biden later told me that she was impressed by the sincerity of the
children's thoughts and messages to servicemembers. “The children said so many
heartwarming things,” she said, such as “thank you for keeping me safe” and
“thank you for taking care of us.”
“It touched my heart,” Dr. Biden said.
by Elaine Wilson|
American Forces Press Service
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