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President Meets with Troops on Christmas in Hawaii

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 26, 2012 – President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama yesterday spent part of Christmas Day with service members and their families at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, according to a White House news release.

The Obamas, who’d traveled to Hawaii for their Christmas vacation, wished everyone a “Merry Christmas” during an afternoon visit to the military facility, located in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

The president said visiting service members and families during Christmas in Hawaii has become a family tradition.

“On behalf of Michelle and myself and our whole family -- we do this every year,” Obama told troops and families gathered at a base dining facility. “This is where I was born, and so we come back for the holidays. But one of our favorite things is always coming to the base on Christmas Day and having a chance just to meet you, those of you who have families here, and to say thank you for the extraordinary work and service that you guys do each and every day.”

It’s an honor to serve as their commander in chief, the president told service members.

“And the reason it’s an honor is because not only do we have the finest military in the world but we also have the finest fighting men and women in the world,” he said, “and so many of you make sacrifices day-in, day-out, on behalf of our freedom, [and] on behalf of our security.”

In addition the sacrifices service members make, Obama said, “everybody here understands the sacrifices that families make each and every day as well.”

The president noted the efforts on the behalf of service members and their families by the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, through their “Joining Forces” nationwide military support campaign.

Through “Joining Forces,” the First Lady and Dr. Biden have “done a lot of work to focus attention on our military families to make sure that you get the support that you have earned and that you deserve,” he said.

Turning to military operations, the president noted, “We’re still in a wartime footing.”

And “there are still folks, as we speak, who are overseas, especially in Afghanistan, risking their lives each and every day,” he said. “Some of you may have loved ones who are deployed there. Some of you may be about to be deployed there, and so we know that it’s not easy.”

“But what we also want you to know is that you have the entire country behind you,” Obama added, “and that all of us understand that we would be nowhere without the extraordinary service that you guys provide.

“And so we want to say thank you, we love you,” the president said.

Obama and the First Lady then invited troops and their families to have pictures taken with them next to a Christmas tree.

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