WASHINGTON — As Americans gather to celebrate Independence Day across the country, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden, their own party on the South Lawn of the White House. “Today, we celebrate America. Our freedom, our liberty, our independence. The Fourth of July is a sacred day in our country. A day of history, of hope, remembrance, and resolve, of promise and possibilities,” Biden said in remarks celebrating the holiday.
The celebration included a barbecue for military families and essential workers, whom Biden thanked for their continued service to the country throughout the pandemic. “It’s the greatest honor to serve as your commander in chief,” the president told the gathered service members. “Thank you for your service and sacrifice.”
In remarks ahead of a fireworks display, Biden highlighted the country’s falling coronavirus case numbers and widespread vaccination uptake while taking time to recognize the more than 600,000 Americans who’ve died from coronavirus during the pandemic. Biden also touched on the importance of democracy, a frequent theme of his presidency.
“Each day, we’re reminded there’s nothing guaranteed about our democracy,” the president cautioned. Biden then warned that “the right to vote and have that vote counted” is sacred, referencing the administration’s efforts to bolster voting rights around the country.
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In March, Biden urged Americans to get vaccinated to “make this Independence Day truly special.” He urged Americans to recognize July 4 as a date to “begin to mark our independence from this virus,” after setting a benchmark that the country should reach 70% of adults getting vaccinated, a threshold many public health officials say is enough for herd immunity. Since Biden’s announcement, the administration has been promoted vaccines in a blitz across media and working with states and localities to increase access and raise public trust.
The country fell slightly short of Biden’s target, with 67% of adults receiving at least one dose by the holiday. Vaccination rates were not even across the country; 20 states and the District of Columbia exceeded Biden’s benchmark, with 30 states lagging. This story will be updated.