Jill Biden Thanks NH National Guard for Pandemic Duty at Pease
First Lady Jill Biden made her way to the Seacoast on Saturday as part of visits nationwide by President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their respective spouses to celebrate the nation's progress against COVID-19.
Although the White House admitted it did not make its goal of 70% of adults fully vaccinated by the Fourth of July it was close at 66.8%, according to the CDC. 55% of the population in New Hampshire, 66% in Maine and 62% in Massachusetts are fully vaccinated according to the state's COVID-19 dashboards.
Dr. Biden started her day in Maine where she met with Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, Rep. Chellie Pingree, Portland Mayor Kate Snyder, and Maine Speaker of the House Ryan Fecteau at the Portland Head Light event in Cape Elizabeth. She also made a stop at Becky's Diner in Portland for a blueberry pie, whoopie pies and a "surprise" slice of pie for the president.
She then made the short flight to Portsmouth International Airport where she met with members of the New Hampshire National Guard and thanked them for helping during the pandemic.
"You provided hundreds of thousands of meals when families were lined up at food banks. And you delivered critically needed PPE and more than a thousand surge beds and more than 100,000 COVID-10 tests," along with 800,000 COVID-19 vaccines, the First Lady said.
She said it wasn't easy being away from their families and jobs but they answered their call of duty.
"But you answered the call to make sure New Hampshire had what it needed to just push forward," Biden said.
Her final stop was the Portsmouth home of Stefany Shaheen, daughter of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Before going into the backyard for a barbeque, Sen. Maggie Hassan offered her own thanks to the Guard for their part in getting New Hampshire through the pandemic. Hassan also thanked President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden for helping the country get past it.
"Dr. Biden and I are just able to talk with some of our National Guardsmen and to thank them for everything they did to make this day possible and make this reopening of our cities towns and our state and our country," Hassan said.
Jeanne Shaheen was complimentary of the Bidens and credited them for returning "dignity, decency and compassion" to the White House and the country. She was also grateful that Biden continued as a teacher even as First Lady.
Wearing a blue sweater with an American flag and a blazer, Biden noted the chill of the day with temperatures around 60 and that it felt like she was in her home state of Delaware. She talked about how a year ago the country was still in a pandemic and recalled people were washing groceries and concerned about toilet paper shortages.
"Who would have thought that we would be here on the Fourth of July together again? We were just with the National Guard and they played such a big part. I just feel the air feels so much sweeter without masks," Biden said.
She credited her husband for getting the country "back on track" and for dealing with the impact of the pandemic on mental health.
"This has had such an impact on our children, on our educators, on the front line workers. The nurses and the doctors. They're going to need a lot of mental health help as we go forward. That's one of the things Joe is working so hard for and what was in his America Rescue Plan," Biden said.
But the country's recovery is still underway, according to the First Lady.
"I hope you feel it in your heart. I hope you feel it in your gut. He is working so hard to bring America back together again," Biden said.
Biden, Hassan and Shaheen then went to the backyard of Stefany Shaheen's home for "a neighborhood barbeque" under large tents which was closed to the media.
Editor's Note: Sen. Hassan's office told Seacoast Current on Sunday the barbeque was not a fundraiser.