Good morning. As families across our nation gather to celebrate Christmas, Laura and I send our best wishes for the holidays. We hope that your Christmas will be blessed with family and fellowship.
At this special time of year, we give thanks for Christ's message of love and hope. Christmas reminds us that we have a duty to others, and we see that sense of duty fulfilled in the men and women who wear our nation's uniform.
America is blessed to have fine citizens who volunteer to defend us in distant lands. For many of them, this Christmas will be spent far from home. And on Christmas, our nation honors their sacrifice and thanks them for all they do to defend our freedom.
At Christmas, we also recognize the sacrifice of our nation's military families. Staying behind when a family member goes to war is a heavy burden, and it is particularly hard during the holidays.
To all our military families listening today, Laura and I thank you, and we ask the Almighty to bestow his protection and care on your loved ones as they protect our nation.
This Christmas season comes at a time of change here in our nation's capital: with a new Congress set to arrive, a review of our Iraq strategy under way, and a new secretary of defense taking office. If you're serving on the front lines halfway across the world, it is natural to wonder what all this means for you.
I want our troops to know that while the coming year will bring change, one thing will not change, and that is our nation's support for you and the vital work you do to achieve a victory in Iraq. The American people are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers, and we will make sure you have the resources you need to accomplish your mission.
This Christmas, millions of Americans are coming together to show our deployed forces and wounded warriors love and support. Patriotic groups and charities all across America are sending gifts and care packages to our service men and women, visiting our troops recovering at military hospitals, reaching out to children whose moms and dads are serving abroad, and going to airports to welcome our troops home and to let them know they are appreciated by a grateful nation.
One man who's making a difference this holiday season is Jim Wareing. Jim is the founder of New England Caring for Our Military. This year, Jim helped organize a gift drive by thousands of students from Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Students from kindergarten to high school collected more than 20,000 gifts for our troops abroad.
The gifts are being sent to troops stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Korea, Japan and Africa. The care packages include books and puzzles, board games, phone cards, fresh socks and T-shirts, and about 7,000 handmade holiday greeting cards and posters.
Jim says, quote, "It's probably always hard for troops to be far away from home but especially hard on the holidays. I use this as an opportunity to try to pay them back for my freedom."
Citizens like Jim Wareing represent the true strength of our country, and they make America proud.
I urge every American to find some way to thank our military this Christmas season. If you see a soldier, sailor, airman, Marine or a member of the Coast Guard, take a moment to stop and say, "Thanks for your service."
And if you want to reach out to our troops or help out the military family down the street, the Department of Defense has set up a Web site to help. It is AmericaSupportsYou.Mil. This Web site lists more than 150 compassionate organizations that can use your help.
In this season of giving, let us stand with the men and women who stand up for America.
At this special time of year, we reflect on the miraculous life that began in a humble manger 2,000 years ago. That single life changed the world and continues to change hearts today.
To everyone celebrating Christmas, Laura and I wish you a day of glad tidings.
Thank you for listening, and Merry Christmas.