(CNN)President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden traveled to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on Monday afternoon to hold a “Friendsgiving” celebration with military service members and their families.
“I want to thank not only the warriors, I want to thank your family because they stand and wait,” Biden said at Fort Bragg. “I know how hard it is to have someone that’s not at the table on a holiday, that are in harm’s way, find themselves out of the country.”
He recounted his late son Beau’s service in Iraq and work in Kosovo, and called US service members the “finest in the world.”
“That’s not hyperbole. You literally are,” Biden continued. “You’re the finest the world has ever seen. And I’m so damn proud to be associated with you, and it’s hard for me to even say it, but the thing that’s amazing to me is how proud I am to be your commander-in-chief. You are the most incredible group of women and men, warriors that we’ve ever seen.”
The first lady said they were both “so grateful” for everything the service members and their families do.
“Joe and I feel like, you know, you’re family to us, and we cannot thank you enough,” she said.
The first couple, donning kitchen aprons emblazoned with the presidential seal, served food to group of some 250 attendees, which included elected officials, service members, and family members of deployed soldiers. The President served stuffing and the first lady served mashed potatoes.
The first couple’s visit was part of the Joining Forces initiative — a White House effort to support military personnel, their families and veterans.
Earlier this month, Jill Biden joined former Sen. Elizabeth Dole, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough for a Joining Forces event at the White House highlighting military caregiving families ahead of Veterans Day.
The initiative was started in 2011 by Jill Biden and then-first lady Michelle Obama.
On Tuesday, the Bidens will participate in a Thanksgiving service project alongside Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff in Washington. Afterward, the Bidens are expected to travel to Nantucket, Massachusetts, where they’ll spend Thanksgiving with family.
This story has been updated with remarks from President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden.