WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama thanked troops and their families for their service during Christmas Day remarks at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, noting the six service members who died earlier this week after a suicide attack in Afghanistan at Bagram Air Force Base.
“Even though we have been able to reduce the number of folks who are deployed in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, there are still folks over there every single day and it’s still dangerous, as we saw this past week with the outstanding brave Americans who were killed,” said Obama, who was joined by first lady Michelle Obama.
“And so we never take for granted all what all of you to for the American people. You help keep us free. You help keep us strong. And whatever service you’re in, we are extraordinarily grateful for everything you do every single day. And we hope you guys had a wonderful Christmas.”
The holiday visit and remarks have become an annual tradition for the President and first lady. There were about 460 people — service members and their families — at the event, according to a base spokesman. After the remarks, the Obamas took pictures with the audience.
“This is one of our favorite things to do every single year, because not only are we in Hawaii for Christmas, but we’re also able to say thank you on behalf of the American people,” the President said. “So many families here are serving tirelessly. And it’s not just those in uniform who serve, it’s also the spouses, the kids. There are times when you’re missing birthdays, missing soccer games, making sacrifices.”
He also took the opportunity for some light-hearted comments joking at the end about his daily workouts on the base and how he pales in comparison to the Marines who are in the gym at the same time.
“The only problem I’ve got when I’m here is having to work out with Marines in the gym,” he said, generating some laughter. “Because I generally feel like your commander in chief is in pretty good shape, and then I get next to some guy curling 100 pounds and it makes me feel small. But that’s okay. It gives me some inspiration. I’m going to work harder so I can keep up with you next year, all right?”
On Friday, the President made telephone calls to U.S. service members from each branch of the military who are currently stationed in various parts of the world. The White House said Obama delivered a similar message he would later give in his address at the base, expressing his gratitude on behalf of all Americans for their service and sacrifice.