During the weekly address from the White House, President Obama and his wife Michelle wished service members, veterans and their families a happy holiday season, and called on all Americans to remember those in harm’s way.
The theme of the president and first lady’s address was reunions. What makes this season so special, Michelle Obama said, is spending time with those we love.
And more military families are getting the chance to do that, the president said. The war in Iraq has ended and the drawdown in Afghanistan continues.
“This week let’s give thanks for our veterans and their families,” the president said. “And let’s say a prayer for all our troops – especially those in Afghanistan – who are spending this holiday overseas, risking their lives to defend the freedoms we hold dear.”
Michelle Obama stressed the role that military families play, saying that when those in uniform “answer the call to serve, their families serve right along with them. Across this country, military spouses have been raising their families all alone during those long deployments.”
She also noted the sacrifices military kids make. “Our military families sacrifice so much on our behalf, and Barack and I believe that we should serve them as well as they serve this country,” she said.
She urged Americans to reach out to service members, veterans and their families via the “Joining Forces” website. The website gives Americans insight into how to help military families and ways to show appreciation to service members and veterans.
This is the season for reaching out to others, the president said. “For my family and millions of Americans, it’s a time to celebrate the birth of Christ – to reflect on his life and learn from his example,” he said. “Every year, we commit to love one another, to give of ourselves, to be our brother’s keeper, to be our sister’s keeper.”
These ideas are universal and espoused by all faiths, he said. “And they unite us as Americans,” he said.
The president and first lady said this is what makes the United States a compassionate nation. “This year, I know many of you are extending that kindness to the families who are still picking up the pieces from Hurricane Sandy and your prayers to the people of Newtown, Connecticut,” the president said.
The president and his family left for their Christmas vacation in Hawaii Friday. White House officials said Obama remains ready to return to Washington after Christmas to negotiate with congressional representatives to avert the looming fiscal cliff.