President Joe Biden welcomed a high-wattage collection of singers, authors, artists and humanitarians to the White House on Tuesday to present them with medals.
Biden recited a poem written by one of the attendees. He took two tries, and he made the same mistakes both times.
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“An engineer, poet, Cuban American, Richard Blanco returned to a poem he wrote from the Second Inaugural of Barack and me,” Biden said.
He started reading from the poem “One Day,” and he required multiple tries.
“And always one moon like a silent drum tapping [at] every rooftop and every window” on every — in — of every county — country. Excu- — let me start this over again,” Biden said, laughing.
He tried again after that.
“And always one moon like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop and every window, of one country — county — county — all of us facing the stars; hope—a new constellation waiting for us to map it, waiting for us to name it—together,” Biden continued.
Take a look —
The poem was written for a president’s inauguration. So, it says “country,” but Biden switched back and forth before settling on “county.”
Biden suffers from a clinical stutter, but his stutter hardly explains the mix-up between “county” and “country.” He said “country” correctly before changing to “county.”
Biden blamed his mishap on stage fright rather than a stutter. “I’m getting so intimidated by being here,” he said.
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Earlier in his speech, Biden lightened the mood with a joke about seeking re-election. He mentioned one attendee winning two Pulitzer Prizes back-to-back.
“Pretty good man,” Biden told the two-time prizewinner. “I’m kind of looking for a back-to-back myself.”
A second term would be like the second recitation of the poem. Biden might make the same mistakes both times!
Watch the poet’s original performance here —
Musicians Bruce Springsteen and Gladys Knight were attending, but they did not perform or speak to the crowd after receiving their awards.
However, the U.S. Marine Corps band that often plays for East Room ceremonies did orchestral numbers of Springsteen hits “Born to Run” and ”Born in the U.S.A.”
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Recipients of the 2021 National Medal of Arts include Knight, Springsteen, artist Judith Francisca Baca, businessman-philanthropist Fred Eychaner, singer Jose Feliciano, actor Mindy Kaling, actor Julia Louis-Dreyfus, painter Antonio Martorell-Cardona, filmmaker Joan Shigekawa, designer Vera Wang,Vera Wang, The Billie Holiday Theatre, and The International Association of Blacks in Dance.
Meanwhile, recipients of the 2021 National Humanities Medal include Blanco, anthropologist Johnnetta Betsch Cole, writer Walter Isaacson, historian Earl Lewis, academic Henrietta Man, author Ann Patchett, activist Bryan Stevenson, author Amy Tan, author Tara Westover, author Colson Whitehead, and Native America Calling.
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article.