President, First Lady Salute Troops, Vets, Families
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 25, 2013 President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama today wished all Americans a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and provided special holiday greetings and thanks to U.S. military members, veterans, and their families for their service and sacrifice to the nation.
The Obamas also employed the president’s weekly address to the nation to remind Americans to visit the Joining Forces website to find ways to give back to military families. The first lady and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, launched the Joining Forces campaign in April 2011 to rally national support from all sectors of society to honor and support service members, veterans and their families.
The president is currently in Hawaii on vacation with the first lady and other family members. Prior to his family’s Christmas Eve dinner yesterday, according to a White House official, the president made holiday telephone calls to U.S. military members stationed around the globe from each service branch, including personnel who were wounded during the attempted Dec. 21 aerial evacuation operation in the town of Bor in South Sudan.
Also, on Christmas Day, the president and the first lady traveled to Marine Corps Base Hawaii to visit with service members and their families. The president and first lady thanked the military members and their families for their service to the nation. The president had individual photos taken with the nearly 600 service members and their families.
The president and the first lady also said in the weekly address that during this holiday season all Americans should come together to find ways to support U.S. service members, veterans and their families, and to keep working to be good parents, friends, neighbors and citizens in their communities.
Here is the text of the president’s and first lady’s weekly national address remarks:
THE PRESIDENT: “Hello everybody, and Happy Holidays.”
THE FIRST LADY: “We know how busy this time of year is for everyone, so we’re not going to take much of your time.
“But we did want to take a moment to wish you all a Merry Christmas, from our family to yours.”
THE PRESIDENT: “This is a season for millions of Americans to be together with family, to continue long-held holiday traditions, and to show our gratitude to those we love. And along the way, some of us might even watch a little basketball or eat some Christmas cookies, too.”
THE FIRST LADY: “Here at the White House, over the past few weeks, we’ve had about 70,000 people from all across the country come visit us and look at our holiday decorations.
“This year’s theme was, ‘Gather Around: Stories of the Season.’
“And in every room of the house, we tried to tell a story about who we are as Americans and how we celebrate the holidays together.
“And we made certain to highlight some of the most powerful stories we know -- the stories of our outstanding troops, veterans, and military families and their service and sacrifice for our country.”
THE PRESIDENT: “Our extraordinary men and women in uniform are serving so that the rest of us can enjoy the blessings we cherish during the holidays. But that means many of our troops are far from home and far from family. They’re spending some extra time on the phone with their loved ones back home. Or they’re setting up video chats so they can watch as the presents are opened. So today, we want all of our troops to know that you’re in our thoughts and prayers this holiday season.
“And here’s the good news: For many of our troops and newest veterans, this might be the first time in years that they’ve been with their families on Christmas. In fact, with the Iraq war over and the transition in Afghanistan, fewer of our men and women in uniform are deployed in harm’s way than at any time in the last decade.”
THE FIRST LADY: “And that’s something we all can be thankful for.
“And with more and more of our troops back here at home, now it’s our turn to serve -- it’s our turn to step up and show our gratitude for the military families who have given us so much.
“And that’s why Jill Biden and I started our Joining Forces initiative -- to rally all Americans to support our military families in ways large and small.
“And again and again, we have been overwhelmed by the response we’ve gotten as folks from across the country have found new ways to give back to these families through their schools, businesses, and houses of worship.”
THE PRESIDENT: “That’s the same spirit of giving that connects all of us during the holidays. So many people all across the country are helping out at soup kitchens, buying gifts for children in need, or organizing food or clothing drives for their neighbors. For families like ours, that service is a chance to celebrate the birth of Christ and live out what He taught us -- to love our neighbors as we would ourselves; to feed the hungry and look after the sick; to be our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper. And for all of us as Americans, regardless of our faith, those are values that can drive us to be better parents and friends, better neighbors and better citizens.”
THE FIRST LADY: “So as we look to the New Year, let’s pledge ourselves to living out those values by reaching out and lifting up those in our communities who could use a hand up."
THE PRESIDENT: “So Merry Christmas, everyone. And, from the two of us, as well as Malia, Sasha, Grandma, Bo …”
THE FIRST LADY: “And Sunny, the newest Obama.”
THE PRESIDENT: “We wish you all a blessed and safe holiday season."
THE FIRST LADY: “Happy holidays everybody, and God bless.”