President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden wave as they board Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Wednesday en route to their Thanksgiving holiday destination of Nantucket, Mass. Photo by Oliver Contreras/EPA-EFE/Pool
Nov. 23 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden placed Thanksgiving holiday calls to U.S. military families stationed around the world and paid a visit to a firehouse on Nantucket Island on Thursday.
After arriving at the Massachusetts island Tuesday night aboard Air Force One, the Bidens continued their decades-long tradition of spending Thanksgiving on Nantucket Thursday while staying at a vacation home owned by private equity billionaire David Rubenstein.
The first couple began their Thanksgiving Day activities with a call-in to NBC's broadcast of the 97th Macy's Day Parade in New York, saying, "We have to remind ourselves how blessed we are to live it the greatest nation on the face of the Earth," and urging Americans with differing political views to "stop the rancor.
"We have to bring the nation together," Joe Biden said. "We have to treat each other with a little bit of decency."
Shortly thereafter, the Bidens called units from each branch of the U.S. military stationed around the world, to thank them and their families for their service to the country.
Among the units they called were the Army's 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team based in Grafenwoehr, Germany, the U.S. Marine Corps Operations Center at the Pentagon, the Navy's USS John C. Stennis at Newport News, Va., and the Air Force's 28th Operational Weather Squadron at Shaw AFB in South Carolina.
The Bidens then drove in a motorcade to the Nantucket Fire Department. The first lady was seen carrying two pie boxes with purple ribbons into the brick-built fire station, and after reemerging, Joe Biden inspected a fire engine and talked to a firefighter.
As they prepared to head back to the vacation home, the president briefly answered a handful of shouted questions from reporters, including a query on when the world could expected a negotiated cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas could begin in Gaza.
"I'm not prepared to give an update until it's done," he said, adding that he is "keeping my fingers crossed" that a 3-year-old American girl currently held hostage by Hamas would be released as part of the cease-fire agreement.
Under the deal, some of an estimated 300 Palestinian women and children now being held in Israeli prisons are to be released in exchange for dozens of Israeli hostages held by Hamas, but it remained unclear if the 3-year-old or either of the other two American hostages will be released in an initial round.
The cease-fire was originally scheduled for Thursday but has since been pushed back to Friday.
President Joe Biden (R) gestures during ceremony to pardon the Thanksgiving turkey, Liberty, at the White House in Washington on November 20, 2023. Biden was joined by Steve Lykken, chairman of the National Turkey Federation (C) and Jose Rojas, vice president of Jennie-O Turkey Store. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo