In the final weekly address of 2008, President-elect Barack Obama calls for the season of giving to also be a season of common purpose and shared citizenship.
Good morning. This week, Americans are gathering with family and friends across the country to celebrate the blessings of Christmas and the holiday season.
As we celebrate this joyous time of year, our thoughts turn to the brave men and women who serve our country far from home. Their extraordinary and selfless sacrifice is an inspiration to us all, and part of the unbroken line of heroism that has made our freedom and prosperity possible for over two centuries.
Many troops are serving their second, third, or even fourth tour of duty. And we are reminded that they are more than dedicated Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guard – they are devoted fathers and mothers; husbands and wives; sons and daughters; sisters and brothers.
This holiday season, their families celebrate with a joy that is muted knowing that a loved one is absent, and sometimes in danger. In towns and cities across America, there is an empty seat at the dinner table; in distant bases and on ships at sea, our servicemen and women can only wonder at the look on their child’s face as they open a gift back home.
Our troops and military families have won the respect and gratitude of their broader American family. Michelle and I have them in our prayers this Christmas, and we must all continue to offer them our full support in the weeks and months to come.
These are also tough times for many Americans struggling in our sluggish economy. As we count the higher blessings of faith and family, we know that millions of Americans don’t have a job. Many more are struggling to pay the bills or stay in their homes. From students to seniors, the future seems uncertain.
That is why this season of giving should also be a time to renew a sense of common purpose and shared citizenship. Now, more than ever, we must rededicate ourselves to the notion that we share a common destiny as Americans – that I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper. Now, we must all do our part to serve one another; to seek new ideas and new innovation; and to start a new chapter for our great country.
That is the spirit that will guide my Administration in the New Year. If the American people come together and put their shoulder to the wheel of history, then I know that we can put our people back to work and point our country in a new direction. That is how we will see ourselves through this time of crisis, and reach the promise of a brighter day.
After all, that’s what Americans have always done.
232 years ago, when America was newly born as a nation, George Washington and his Army faced impossible odds as they struggled to free themselves from the grip of an empire.
It was Christmas Day – December 25th, 1776 – that they fought through ice and cold to make an improbable crossing of the Delaware River. They caught the enemy off guard, won victories in Trenton and Princeton, and gave new momentum to the beleaguered Army and new hope to the cause of Independence.
Many ages have passed since that first American Christmas. We have crossed many rivers as a people. But the lessons that have carried us through are the same lessons that we celebrate every Christmas season – the same lessons that guide us to this very day: that hope endures, and that a new birth of peace is always possible.
Thank you, and have a wonderful New Year.