Family Matters Blog: Obama Thanks Troops, Families for Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2010 — Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma made a sur­prise vis­it to Afghanistan today to thank U.S. ser­vice­mem­bers for their ser­vice and sac­ri­fice, and to per­son­al­ly pass on his hol­i­day greet­ings.
I want­ed to share some excerpts of his speech to more than 3,500 ser­vice­mem­bers in a hangar at Bagram Air Base, in which he not only thanked troops for their “self­less ser­vice,” but also acknowl­edged the sac­ri­fices made by their fam­i­lies, par­tic­u­lar­ly with the hol­i­days at hand.

“I know it’s not easy for all of you to be away from home, espe­cial­ly dur­ing the hol­i­days,” Oba­ma said. “And I know it’s hard on your fam­i­lies. They’ve got an emp­ty seat at the din­ner table. Some­times dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son that’s when you feel the absence of some­body you love most acute­ly. ”

The pres­i­dent thanked the troops on behalf of him­self, his fam­i­ly and “more than 300 mil­lion Amer­i­cans. “I also want to say thank you to your fam­i­lies back home so that when you talk to them you know that they know,” he said. “They’re serv­ing here with you — in mind and spir­it, if not in body.”

Amer­i­cans are unit­ed, and unfail­ing, in their sup­port of mil­i­tary mem­bers and their fam­i­lies.

“Every­body back home is behind you,” he said. “Every­body — from north to south to east to west, from sea to shin­ing sea — the Amer­i­can peo­ple are unit­ed in sup­port of you and your fam­i­lies.”

Oba­ma said he will spare no effort to ensure ser­vice­mem­bers’ fam­i­lies have the sup­port they need.

“That doesn’t just mat­ter to me,” he said. “It’s also a top pri­or­i­ty for [First Lady] Michelle [Oba­ma] — to make sure that Amer­i­cans under­stand the sac­ri­fices that your fam­i­lies are mak­ing.

“As she likes to say, 100 per­cent of Amer­i­cans need to be right — they are sup­port­ing you and your fam­i­lies — 100 per­cent,” he said. “Only 1 per­cent are fight­ing these wars, but 100 per­cent of us have to be behind you and your fam­i­lies.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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