President Obama says he will spend Thanksgiving Day “eating great food, watching a little football, and reflecting on how truly lucky we truly are.” And foremost among the blessings the president says he counts are the thousands of men and women in the U.S. military who are fighting to defend the country overseas.
In his weekly address, delivered early in honor of the holiday, the commander-in-chief praised all Americans who have volunteered serve.
“To all the service members eating Thanksgiving dinner far from your families: the American people are thinking of you today,” the president said. “And when you come home, we intend to make sure that we serve you as well as you’re serving America.
“We’re also grateful for the Americans who are taking time out of their holiday to serve in soup kitchens and shelters, making sure their neighbors have a hot meal and a place to stay,” he added. “This sense of mutual responsibility – the idea that I am my brother’s keeper; that I am my sister’s keeper – has always been a part of what makes our country special. And it’s one of the reasons the Thanksgiving tradition has endured.”
Tracing the roots of Thanksgiving to early celebrations of “community during a time of great hardship,” Obama invoked the faith and perseverance of participants in those meals to encourage Americans today struggling economically to do the same.
And Obama voiced optimism – on a day symbolic of “unity”- that the paralysis of the political process in Washington can be overcome.
“With all the partisanship and gridlock here in Washington, it’s easy to wonder if such unity is really possible,” Obama said. ”But think about what’s happening at this very moment: Americans from all walks of life are coming together as one people, grateful for the blessings of family, community and country.
“If we keep that spirit alive, if we support each other and look out for each other, and remember that we’re all in this together, then I know that we too will overcome the challenges of our time,” Obama said.
The White House said the president called 10 military service members — two each from the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy — this morning to thank them for their service in Iraq and Afghanistan and wish them a Happy Thanksgiving.