During the first holiday season with the U.S. military out of Iraq and winding down in Afghanistan, President Obama today wished a special homecoming for American troops in his weekly address.
"This weekend, parents are picking up their kids from college and making room for all that laundry they bring with them," he said. "Children are counting down the hours until the grandparents arrive, and uncles, aunts and cousins are all making their way to join the family and share in the holiday spirit.
"And this year," he said, "that's especially true for some of our military families."
The president and first lady Michelle Obama reflected on Americans reuniting with their loved ones, including those coming from abroad.
"After a decade of war, our heroes are coming home," Obama said. "And all across America, military families are reuniting. So this week, let's give thanks for our veterans and their families. 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."
Released after a tense week of "fiscal cliff" negotiations, gun control discussions, and new staff appointments, the president made no mention of party politics in the video statement. Rather, he and the first lady asked for support for the Joining Forces program, which focuses on employment, charity and other opportunities for U.S. service members and their households.
"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," the first lady said. "That's why Dr. Jill Biden and I started Joining Forces - an effort to rally all Americans to honor and support our veterans and military families."
President Obama reflected on the holiday season as it pertains to the Christian faith and volunteer efforts.
"Every year, we commit to love one another, to give of ourselves, to be our brother's keeper, to be our sister's keeper," he said. "But those ideas are not just part of our faith. They're part of all faiths. And they unite us as Americans. "
The two concluded by thanking national volunteers dedicated this season to those "most in need," including Americans picking up the pieces from Hurricane Sandy and the grieving neighborhoods of Newtown, Conn.