KAILUA, Hawaii, Dec. 25 (UPI) -- President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama singled out U.S. military families for special thanks and best wishes in their Christmas Day message to everyone.
In a radio and Internet address they issued together, the Obamas drew attention to the sacrifice those in the military and their families make for the nation.
"Our extraordinary men and women in uniform are serving so that the rest of us can enjoy the blessings we cherish during the holidays," Obama said. "But that means many of our troops are far from home and far from family.
"... So today, we want all of our troops to know that you're in our thoughts and prayers this holiday season."
The president went on to note that with the war in Iraq over and the U.S. involvement in the conflict in Afghanistan winding down, there are fewer Americans "deployed in harm's way than at any time in the last decade."
"And that's something we all can be thankful for," Michelle Obama said.
"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."
The president also said the giving spirit "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," he said. "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 followed up by urging: "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 concluded with a "Merry Christmas, everyone. ... We wish you all a blessed and safe holiday season."