Biden congratulates Kennedy Center honors at White House



CNN

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden congratulated the class of the 45th Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday evening and welcomed them to the White House ahead of the star-studded event celebrating the American arts.

“Tonight we celebrate a truly exceptional, and this is no exaggeration, a truly exceptional group of artists – group of artists who embody the spirit of ‘we the people’. This year’s Kennedy Center nominees — they’re all an incredible bunch of people,” Biden said.

The president tapped through all the awards, their achievements and contributions to the arts. Those honored at the Kennedy Center on Sunday evening include George Clooney, Amy Grant, Gladys Knight, Tania León and all four members of Irish rock band U2.

The honorees, selected for their contributions to American culture by the Kennedy Center’s Executive Committee’s Board of Trustees, will be greeted Sunday night at the Kennedy Center Opera House in the presence of their peers, the Center said. The event will air on December 28.

The Bidens’ presence will be the first family’s second year continuing the long-standing tradition that was interrupted during the Trump administration.

In 2017, then-President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump declined to attend the Kennedy Center Honors after two of that year’s honorees—television writer and producer Norman Lear and dancer Carmen de Lavallade—said that they would not attend the reception hosted by Trump at the White House, citing political beliefs.

At the time, the White House said Trump’s decision would allow the performers to “celebrate without any political distractions.”

Addressing the honorees on Sunday, Biden concluded his remarks with a message of unity.

In the midst of the great division, that was President Lincoln’s plea. That we would do well to remember today at a time when there is too much hatred, too much anger, too much division here in America and frankly around the world. We must remember today as their song goes – we are one, but we are not the same. We get to carry each other,” Biden said, slightly misquoting U2’s lyrics, which read, “One life, but we’re not the same.”

Some of the notable White House attendees included Sacha Baron Cohen, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Sean Penn, Julia Roberts, Amal Clooney, Matt Damon, and former Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police officer Michael Fanone, who was at the U.S. Capitol during the January 6, 2021 uprising. Also in attendance were Vice President Kamala Harris, Second Mr. Douglas Emhoff, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

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