Obama, through proclamation, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen issued Thanksgiving messages.
"As we gather once again among loved ones, let us also reach out to our neighbors and fellow citizens in need of a helping hand," Obama said, noting that the Thanksgiving tradition of being with family "binds us together as one people, each of us thankful for our common blessings."
Obama also called on people to renew bonds with each other and serve in their communities to keep that commitment.
"In doing so, we pay tribute to our country's men and women in uniform who set an example of service that inspires us all.," Obama said. "Let us be guided by the legacy of those who have fought for the freedoms for which we give thanks, and be worthy heirs to the noble tradition of goodwill shown on this day."
Mullen's Thanksgiving Day thanked the U.S. military for its dedication to making the nation and world a safer place.
"From Afghanistan to Iraq and a thousand places in between, you help ensure peace and stability in places that have historically known neither," Mullens' message said.
Noting that the United States is a volunteer force, Mullen said troops chose to wear the uniform "not because you enjoy danger or killing or sacrifice, but rather in spite of those things. You and your families serve and work so hard so that someday perhaps your children and grandchildren might not have to."