President Biden, USO Shares 'Friendsgiving' Dinner with Service Members and Their Families at MCAS Cherry Point
The smells of a freshly baked apple pie straight out of the oven, and turkey with all the fixings are fragrances synonymous with the Thanksgiving holiday, a unique time of year when the phrase “comforts of home,” means something very specific to America’s troops and their families.
For many service members and their families, a trip home this year may not be possible as they are either forward deployed serving in another country, or can’t make it home due to assigned duties, personal circumstances or other reasons.
In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday tradition, and the USO’s mission of keeping America service members connect to family, home, and country throughout their time in service, the USO was honored to support President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden as they joined forces with renowned Chef Robert Irvine to serve up a tasty Friendsgiving meal to over 400 Marines, sailors and families of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, and Marine Corps Air Stations (MCAS) Cherry Point and New River at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina, Nov. 21, 2022.
“Events like this evening are at the heart and soul of what the USO is all about,” said Megan Boggs, USO North Carolina Coastal Center Manager. “Throughout the holidays, the USO is there to connect families across the globe and throughout North Carolina through our USO Holidays programming, and this evening’s Thanksgiving meal with our President is truly impactful and brings the local military community together as one big family.”
The event was part of the White House’s Joining Forces initiative, where the first lady has made military families a major focal point of her time in the White House, both now and when her husband served as vice president.
For Koraima Quintana, the spouse of LCpl. Diego Quintana, having the opportunity to be in the same room with the President was a once in a lifetime opportunity for her family, and to be served a meal by the President and First Lady made the event that more special to them.
“I didn’t have the opportunity to meet the President when I was a child, but for my children to be able to say they have been close to, or I’ve met the President of the United States is amazing to me,” said Quintana.
Prior to meeting the President and the First Lady, service members and their families enjoyed a two-hour Holiday Festival hosted by the USO in partnership with the Cherry Point Marine Corps Community Services. During the festival, service members and their families enjoyed multiple USO Gaming stations and the NFL Gaming Mobile, board games, cornhole, crafts and bouncy houses for the children, to include an array of holiday refreshments, putting everyone in a festive mood as they awaited the arrival of the President and the First Lady.
“Being here with the USO awaiting the arrival of the President, really embodies patriotism and comradery,” said LCpl. Paul Espinoza. “Everyone here is having an amazing time, and although my family can’t be here with me, I know they are here in spirit.”
President Biden expressed sincere gratitude to the service members and their families and the sacrifices they make in service to our country, to include being apart from their loved ones.
“The American people have no idea the sacrifices you’re making. One percent — one percent of you represents 99 percent of the public,” said Biden. “I mean this sincerely from the bottom of my heart. It is that — that is to equip those we send into harm’s way and care for them and their families when they come home.”
The President and the First Lady served guests then turned their focus on engaging and meeting with service members and families at each table before departing for the evening.
“It’s always a privilege to support events where President and Dr. Biden have the opportunity to interact closely with service members and their families,” said Virginia Burnley, Senior Vice President for Government Relations and External Affairs. “Our colleagues at the White House know that wherever the President and Dr. Biden may travel, the USO will consistently provide a meaningful and memorable experience of the highest quality, just as our service members and their families have come to expect when they see our iconic red, white and blue logo.”
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