Nov 25, 2020
Joe Biden Thanksgiving Address Speech Transcript 2020
Joe Biden gave his Thanksgiving address on November 25, 2020. Read the full transcript here.
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Joe Biden: (00:00)
Authorized by the Continental Congress, took place on December 18th, 1777. Was celebrated by General George Washington and his troops at Gulph Mills on the way to Valley Forge. And it took place under extremely harsh conditions in deprivation, lacking food, clothing, shelter. They’re preparing to ride out a long, hard winter. And today you can find a plaque in Gulph Mills marking that moment. Here’s what the plaque reads. It says, “This Thanksgiving in spite of the suffering showed the reverence in character that was forging the soul of a nation.” Forging the soul of a nation, faith, courage, sacrifice, service to country, service to each other and gratitude, even in the face of suffering, have long being part of what Thanksgiving means in America. Now, looking back over our history, you see that it’s been in the most difficult circumstances that the soul of our nation has been forged.
Joe Biden: (01:16)
And now we find ourselves again, facing a long, hard winter. We fought nearly a year long battle with a virus that has devastated this nation. This brought us pain and loss and frustration. And has cost so many lives, 260000 Americans and counting. It’s divided us, angered us, set us against one another. I know the country has grown wary of the fight. We need to remember we’re war with the virus, not with one another, not with each other. This is the moment where we need to instill our spines, redouble our efforts and recommit ourselves to the fight. Let’s remember, we’re all in this together. Sounds trite to say, but we’re all in this together. For so many of us, it’s hard to hear this fight isn’t over. We still have months of this battle ahead of us.
Joe Biden: (02:22)
For those who have lost a loved one, I know that this time of year can be especially difficult. Believe me. I know. I remember that first Thanksgiving. The empty chair, the silence, takes your breath away. It’s really hard to care. It’s hard to give thanks. It’s hard to even think of looking forward and it’s so hard to hope. I understand. Can’t be thinking and praying for each and every one of you at this Thanksgiving. At your Thanksgiving table, because we’ve been there. This year, we’re asking Americans to forego so many of the traditions that we’ve long made this holiday, which made it so special. For our families, for 40 some years, we’ve had a tradition of traveling over Thanksgiving. Tradition that we’ve kept every year, save one. The year our son Beau die. But this year we’ll be staying home. We’ve always had a big family gathering at Thanksgiving. Kids, grandkids, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, and more.
Joe Biden: (03:46)
With The Bidens, the days around Thanksgiving have always been a time to remember all we had to be grateful for and a time to begin to think about Christmas and begin even to do the Christmas list. But this year, because we care so much for each other, we’re going to be having a separate Thanksgiving. For Jill and I, we’ll be at our home in Delaware with our daughter and our son-in-law. The rest of the family will be doing the same thing in small groups. So I know how hard it is to forgo family traditions, but it’s so very important. Our country’s in the middle of a dramatic spike in cases. We’re now averaging 160000 new cases a day. No one would be surprised if we hit 200000 cases in a single day. Many local health systems are at risk of being overwhelmed. That’s the plain and simple truth. Nothing made up. It’s real.
Joe Biden: (04:53)
And I believe you always deserve to hear the truth. Hear the truth from your president. We have to try to slow the growth of this virus. We owe it to the doctors and the nurses and other frontline workers, care workers who’ve risked their lives. Some lost their lives. Put so much on the line in a heroic battle in this virus against it for so long. We owe that to our fellow citizens who need access to hospital beds and care to fight this disease. We owe it to one another. It’s literally our patriotic duty as Americans. It means wearing a mask, keeping social distancing, limiting the size of any group we’re in. Until we have a vaccine, these are the most effective tools to combat the virus. Starting on day one of my presidency, we will take steps that will change the course of this disease.
Joe Biden: (05:59)
More testing. We’ll find people with cases and get them away from one another, slowing the number of infections. More protective gear for businesses and our schools to do the same, reducing the number of cases. Clear guidance, we’ll get more businesses and more schools open. We all have a role to play in beating this crisis. The federal government has vast powers to combat the virus. And I commit to you, I will use all of those powers to lead a national coordinated response, but the federal government can’t do this alone. Each of us has a responsibility in our own lives, do what we can do to slow the virus. Every decision we make matters. Every decision we make can save lives. None of these steps we’re asking people to take are political statements. Every one of them is based on science, real science. And the good news is there has been significant record-breaking progress made recently in developing a vaccine. And several of these vaccines look extraordinarily effective.
Joe Biden: (07:13)
And it happens that we’re on track for the first immunization to begin by late December, early January. Then we’ll need to put in place a distribution plan to get the entire country immunized as soon as possible, which we will do, but it’s going to take time. I’m hoping the news of the vaccine will serve as an incentive to every American, to take these simple steps to get control of the virus. There’s real hope, tangible hope. So, hang on. Don’t let yourselves surrender to the fatigue, which I understand it is real fatigue. I know we can, and we will beat this virus. America’s not going to lose this war. We’ll get our lives back. Life is going to return to normal, I promise you. This will happen. This will not last forever. So yes, it’s been a really hard year, particularly hard for over 250000 people and their families. But I still believe we have much to be thankful for. There’s so much to hope for. Much to build on. Much to dream up.
Joe Biden: (08:31)
Here’s the America I see. And I believe it’s the America you see as well. America that faces facts. America that overcomes challenges. An America where we seek justice and equality for all people. An America that holds fast to the conviction that out of pain comes possibility, out of frustration comes progress and out of division unity. You all know in our finest hours, that’s who we’ve always been and that’s what we shall be again. I believe that this grim season of division, demonization is going to give way to a year of light and immunity. Why do I think so? Because America is a nation not of adversaries, but of neighbors. Not of limitations, but of possibilities. Not of dreams deferred, but of dreams realized. I’ve said many times that this is a great country. We are a good people. This is the United States of America. And there’s never been anything we’ve been unable to do when we’ve done it together.
Joe Biden: (09:49)
Think of what we come through. As a nation, how many things we’ve come through? Centuries of human enslavement, cataclysmic civil war, exclusion of women from the ballot box, world wars, Jim Crow, the long twilight struggle against Soviet tyranny that could have ended not in the fall of the Berlin Wall, but a nuclear Armageddon. Look, I’m not naive. I know that history is just that, history. But to know what came before, what come before, what’s happened before, can help arm us against despair. Knowing that previous generations got through the same universal human challenge that we face, the tension between selfishness and generosity, between fear and hope, between division and unity.
Joe Biden: (10:41)
What was it that brought the reality of America into closer alignment with the promise of reality, justice and prosperity? It sounds corny, but it was love, plain and simple. Love of country. Love of one another. We don’t talk much about loving our politics. The political run is too loud, too angry, too heated. To love our neighbor as ourselves is a radical act. It is what we’re called to do. We must try. Only in trying, only in listening, only in seeing ourselves as bound together. And what Dr. King called the mutual garment of destiny, can we rise above divisions and truly heal. Look, we all know America is never been perfect. We’ve always tried to fulfill the aspiration of the Declaration of Independence, that all people are created equal, created in the image of God. And then we’ve always sought to form a more perfect union.
Joe Biden: (11:55)
What should we give thanks for this season? Well, first let’s be thankful for democracy itself. In this last election, one that just took place, we’ve seen record numbers of Americans exercise the most sacred rights, that of the vote to register their will at the ballot box. Think about that. In the middle of a pandemic, more people voted this year than have ever voted in the history of the United States of America. Over 150 million people cast a ballot. Simply extraordinary. Many waiting in line five, six, seven, eight hours to vote. If you want to know what beats deep in the heart of America? It’s this, democracy, the right to determine our lives, our government and our leaders. The right to be heard.
Joe Biden: (12:54)
Our democracy was tested this year. And what we learned is this, the people of this nation are up to the task. In America, we have full and fair and free elections. And then we honor the results. The people of this nation and the laws of the land won’t stand for anything else. Through the vote, the noblest instrument of non-violent protest ever conceived. We remained a new and reminded a new, that progress is possible that, we, the people, have the power to change, what Jefferson called the course of human events. Now, with our hearts and our hands and our voices, today, we can be better than yesterday and tomorrow, we can be still better than that day.
Joe Biden: (13:56)
We should be thankful too, that America is a covenant, an unfolding story. We have what we need to create prosperity, opportunity and justice. Americans have grit and generosity, a capacity for greatness and reservoirs of goodness. We have what it takes. Now, we have to act. This is our moment. Ours together to write a newer, bolder, more compassionate chapter in the life of the nation. The work ahead is not going to be easy. It will not be quick. You want solutions, not shouting, reasons, not hyper-partisanship, light, not heat. You want us to hear one another again, see one another again, respect one another again. You want Democrats and Republicans, and independents to come together and work together. And that my friends is what I’m determined to do.
Joe Biden: (15:02)
America is dream big. As hard as it may seem this Thanksgiving, we’re going to dream big again. Our future is bright. In fact, I’ve never been more optimistic about the future America than I am right now. I honest to God, believe that 21st century is going to be an American century. We’re going to build an economy that leads the world. We’re going to lead the world by the power of our example, not just the example of our power. We’re going to lead the world on climate and save this planet. We’re going to find cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s and diabetes. I promise you. We’re going to finally root out systemic racism in this country. I miss Thanksgiving and anticipation of all the Thanksgivings that come. Let’s dream again. Let’s commit ourselves to thinking not only of ourselves, but of others as well. For if we care for one another, if we open our arms rather than brandishing our fist, we can with the help of God heal.
Joe Biden: (16:18)
And if we do, and I’m sure we can, we can claim the promised. With the promise who wrote these following words. The Lord is my strength and my shield, and with my song I give thanks to him. I give thanks now for you, for the trust you’ve placed in me. Together, we’ll lift our voices in the coming months and years. And our songs shall be of lives saved, bridges repaired, a nation made whole again. Folks from the Biden family to yours, wherever and however, you may be celebrated. We wish you a happy Thanksgiving. May God bless you and may God protect our troops. Happy Thanksgiving.