Over the weekend, President Joe Biden welcomed the members of U2 to a White House reception honoring this year’s Kennedy Center Honorees, noting their shared heritage in his praise of them and their music.
“From this Irish American president, in the White House designed by Irish hands who built this … I want to thank U2 for all you’ve done and the way you lift people up,” Biden said. “You really make a difference.”
He added, “For more than 40 years U2 has changed the world. Anthems about civil rights, solidarity of workers and the struggle for peace. Ballads about love and family. Concerts dedicated to ending poverty and disease.”
Biden quoted the band’s hit “One,” saying, “At a moment when there’s too much hate, too much anger, too much division here in America, and quite frankly, around the world, we have to remember today, as their song goes, ‘We’re one, but we’re not the same. We get to carry each other.'”
According to the BBC, U2 guitarist The Edge then noted that the ceremony took place almost 42 years to the day that the band played its first U.S. concert: December 6, 1980.
“We had big dreams and like so many people in Ireland, America was the focus of those dreams,” he said. “There is such a close bond between U2 and this country, and we can’t fully explain it but since that very first gig, we’ve always felt warmth and love, but this tonight goes way above and beyond.”
At the gala following the ceremony, U2 was saluted by Sacha Baron Cohen who, in his guise as Kazakhstan journalist Borat, made numerous inappropriate jokes. According to the Washington Post, Eddie Vedder then sang U2’s “Elevation” and “One”; Hozier and Brandi Carlile, joined by Sheryl Crow and others, sang “Walk On.”
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