As the nation celebrates its 245th birthday on Sunday, Joe Biden looks to a rebound from the recent coronavirus pandemic. After a holiday spent buying cherry pies in Michigan before spending a quiet night at his family home in Delaware, Biden is returning to the White House to host around 1,000 people at the White House for burgers and fireworks. It is a sweet taste of nostalgia for a country weary of coronavirus pandemic restrictions and hardship, burdens that have eased but not completely disappeared with the widespread availability of vaccines.
The pandemic last year forced nearly all celebrations to be called off and led to a dim January inauguration for Biden, who had to do without the black-tie galas or bipartisan comity, as Republican former President Donald Trump challenged his loss. Normalcy has returned in the United States, where people have traveled and gathered without masks, even if Biden has fallen short of his goal of getting 70% of U.S. adults at least one vaccine shot by Sunday. According to the government, this number is about 67%, since some people refused vaccinations.
‘On Sunday, we’ll celebrate our independence as a nation, as well as our progress against the virus,’ Biden told a group of teachers on Friday. ‘In the days ahead, we have a chance to make another beginning’.At the White House on Saturday, smoke rose from the charcoal grills as kitchen staff prepared dishes for the event on Sunday.
In a sharp change from recent months, the White House will be open to hundreds of guests, marking the largest event there during Biden’s presidency. It is expected to be attended by military families and those who assisted with the COVID response. There will be a speech by Biden, followed by a 17-minute-fireworks display from both sides of the Lincoln Memorial’s reflection pool.
The President’s house has been largely shielded from public view in recent months, with COVID protocols limiting tours and additional fencing installed after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. As a nod to the COVID-19 coronavirus, which has killed more than 600,000 Americans, this year’s event has been scaled back compared to the previous years. The more aggressive Delta variant has raised concerns about another outbreak among the unvaccinated.