The most relaxing 20 minutes of television watching I can recall in recent years happened on March 11, when President Joe Biden addressed the nation. After years of clenching my gut every time the former White House resident opened his mouth, sitting and listening to our president was downright blissful.That the topic was not a happy one — the pandemic — made my feeling all the more remarkable. Here was a grownup, speaking truth, showing empathy, and inspiring us.
Here is some of what I carried forward out of that evening, and the reflections of journalists I respect on the importance of this moment.
Telling the Truth
President Biden’s first national address began with the tragedy of the year-long siege of the Coronavirus pandemic: the losses; the pain; the economic and emotional hardship so many Americans are suffering. Biden showed us an index card he carries in a suit pocket with the number of COVID deaths. After a year of false promises, science denial, and the encouraging of careless behavior, our new president told us the truth.
We know what to do… tell the truth.President Joe Biden
We have an empathetic president, one who overflows with it. We have a president that says “we” instead of “I,” giving words to the sorrow and frustration so many of us are feeling.Jonathan Capehart, PBS NewsHour
He’s giving you the sense that he cares about people. It’s not like before, when what we had was, ‘It’s all about himself.’’Mary Wilmes, Pennsylvanian shop owner quoted by Will Weissert, AP, Democrats Bank on Relief to Win Back the Wary Working Class
We need to remember the government isn’t some foreign force in a distant capital. No. It’s us. All of us, turning our hands to common purpose.President Joe Biden, March 11, 2021
I need you.President Joe Biden, March 11, 2021
Finding light in the darkness is a very American thing to do. In fact, it may be the most American thing we do.President Joe Biden, March 11, 2021
If we do our part, if we do this together, your families and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or your neighborhood and have a cookout and a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day.President Joe Biden, March 11, 2021
The July 4 vision gives us something to look forward to after a long year of doing the same limited things over and over.David Brooks, PBS NewsHour, March 12, 2020
In December, the president-elect promised that 100 million Americans would be vaccinated in his first 100 days in office. By March 11, we were nearly there, my husband and I among the those vaccinated, and we have now surpassed that number. According to NPR, Americans have received more than 124 million doses of the vaccine, and we are just 62 days into the Biden administration.
Put trust and faith in our government to fulfill its most important function, which is protecting the American people.President Joe Biden, March 11, 2021
The president pledged that there would be enough vaccinations on hand by May 1 for all Americans. We believe him.
Imagine that. This is the America my father represented during his Foreign Service career.