Obama, DOD, VA Chiefs Salute Troops, Vets on Thanksgiving
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2013 President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki wished the nation’s service members, veterans and their families a happy Thanksgiving.
U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter serves U.S. troops Thanksgiving lunch on Forward Operating Base Gamberi, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2013. Carter thanked the troops for their service, saying he knew they would rather be with their families for Thanksgiving, but they were doing a great service and sacrifice for their country by serving. The troops are assigned to the 4th Brigade of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
In his weekly address to the nation issued today, Obama noted that he, like many other Americans, would be sitting down with family members and friends “to eat some good food, tell stories, watch a little football, and most importantly, count our blessings.”
Americans “have so much to be thankful for,” Obama said, to include “all our men and women in uniform -- and for their families, who are surely missing them very much today.”
The nation, he added, is grateful for the sacrifices made by its service members.
“We give thanks for the freedoms they defend -- the freedom to think what we want and say what we think, to worship according to our own beliefs, to choose our leaders and, yes, criticize them without punishment,” Obama said.
“People around the world are fighting and even dying for their chance at these freedoms,” the president continued. “We stand with them in that struggle, and we give thanks for being free.
“Thank you, God bless you, and from my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving,” he said.
Earlier today, according to the White House Press Office, Obama called 10 service members: two from the Army, two from the Marine Corps, two from the Navy, two from the Air Force and two from the Coast Guard. The president thanked all of the military members for their service and he wished them all and their families a Happy Thanksgiving.
In his Thanksgiving message, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel extended his “personal gratitude to the entire Department of Defense community for your work to keep our country strong and secure.”
Hagel added, “Whether you are in uniform or a civilian, whether deployed abroad or stationed here at home, it is your service and commitment that allows Americans to enjoy the blessings of Thanksgiving. Your strength, selflessness, and patriotism are deeply respected by the American people, and we are very thankful for your commitment to our country.”
This time of year during the holidays “is especially difficult for service members who are serving far away from their families and loved ones,” Hagel said. “To all those deployed overseas, know that Americans will be thinking about you as they gather around the Thanksgiving table, and praying for your safe return.”
Hagel said Americans will always be indebted to service members’ families because of their sacrifices on behalf of the nation.
“And to all DOD personnel everywhere and your families: thank you and Happy Thanksgiving,” Hagel said.
Today, Hagel called four service members representing the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps to thank them for their service and to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving.
Deputy Defense Secretary Carter traveled to Afghanistan to spend Thanksgiving Day with U.S. troops. Carter served Thanksgiving lunch today to U.S. Army troops on Forward Operating Base Gamberi. Carter thanked the 10th Mountain Division soldiers for their service, saying he knew they would rather be with their families for Thanksgiving, but they were doing a great service and sacrifice for their country by serving.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said in his Thanksgiving message that “another courageous generation of young Americans serves today as a force for good in some of the most remote and unforgiving places in the world.”
Many U.S. service members “will observe Thanksgiving and the upcoming holiday season without the warmth and companionship of families and friends,” Shinseki added. “Their missions are difficult and dangerous and they perform them without hesitation. In this season of Thanksgiving, let us pray for their well-being and safe return.”
Shinseki added, “As we gather at our own tables on November 28th, let us not only give thanks for the blessings in our own lives, but give thanks for the men and women who now serve, and for those who have served on Thanksgivings past, ensuring for us and future generations of Americans the “precious blessing” of liberty.
“‘Happy Thanksgiving’ to all our veterans and their families, to the survivors of the fallen, and to my VA colleagues across our department who serve them so faithfully,” Shinseki said. “May God continue to bless this great and wonderful country of ours.”