At his first large event since his inauguration, President Joe Biden hosted a party at the White House in honor of the Fourth of July holiday Sunday.
"America is coming back together,” Biden said.
“Today, we’re closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus.”
The White House was open to hundreds of invited guests Sunday, serving up hamburgers and other dishes.
Among the guests were essential workers who helped with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as military families.
In his remarks to his guests Sunday, Biden encouraged those who have not yet been vaccinated against the coronavirus to do so.
“My fellow Americans – it's the most patriotic thing you can do,” he said.
The administration had set a goal of having 70% of American adults vaccinated by the holiday. The nation got close: about 67% have had at least one shot.
Sunday also marked one of the first times that fencing, which had been erected around the White House during the anti-police violence protests in 2020 and in the wake of the January 6th assault on the Capitol, was removed. Visitors can now walk up to the North Lawn fence in front of the White House.
Though the event is the largest since Biden took office in January, the crowds are much smaller than White House Independence Day events in previous years.
With fireworks and gatherings, Americans celebrated their country's 245th Independence Day this year with a sense of renewal as new cases of COVID-19 continued to drop but also with the reminder that more than 600,000 in the U.S. — the most of any country — have died of the disease.
Some information for this report came from Reuters.