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Obamas thank troops, emphasize service in Christmas message

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama thanked U.S. troops for their service and emphasized serving others in their annual Christmas greeting, released Wednesday. 

The president also noted the reduced troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan when he said "For many of our troops and newest veterans, this might be the first time in years that they’ve been with their families on Christmas.  In fact, with the Iraq war over and the transition in Afghanistan, fewer of our men and women in uniform are deployed in harm’s way than at any time in the last decade."

Obama also called on Americans to embrace the ethos of service, saying "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.  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 message was recorded at the White House before the Obama family left for Hawaii Friday for the year-end holidays.