Prepared Remarks of President
Saturday, December 22, 2007
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Christmas is just a few days away. As Americans gather around the tree with family and friends, we remember the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard men and women who will be spending this holiday far away from their homes and loved ones.
America is blessed to have men and women willing to step forward to defend our freedoms and keep us safe from our enemies. We are thankful for their courage and their dedication to duty. We pray for their safety. And we wish them a Merry Christmas, wherever they serve.
America is also blessed to have military families willing to sacrifice for our country. The husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters of those in the military serve our country as well. For many of them, service means packing up their belongings and moving on short notice, or living in a different country for a time, or missing a family member as he or she serves overseas. And this Christmas, many will sit down for dinner thinking of their loved ones half a world away. These families deserve the thanks and the prayers of our whole Nation.
Some military families are helping loved ones recover from injuries sustained in combat. These families are a special source of hope and strength for our wounded warriors. Through their encouragement and devotion, they help heal the body and the spirit, and they remind our wounded warriors that our Nation stands behind them.
Other military families have felt the pain of losing a loved one in battle. This Christmas, we hold them in our hearts. We lift them up in our prayers. And we are inspired by the example that many of these families have set by turning their grief into extraordinary acts of compassion and love.
One such inspiring example is the family of Army Specialist Michael Rodriguez of Knoxville, Tennessee. During his deployment in Iraq, Michael often wrote home to his family about the children he met on patrol. In April, Michael was killed by a suicide bomber. Now his family is honoring his memory by helping to collect school supplies for students at an Iraqi school for girls.
We are also grateful for Kirsten Yuhl-Torres of San Diego, California. In 2006, Kirsten lost her son, Sergeant Joseph Perry, in Iraq. To honor Joseph's memory, she started sending care packages and writing letters of support to other soldiers serving there. Kirsten says, "Joe was our only son, but now we have hundreds."
Our Nation is also inspired by Bob Lehmiller, whose son Sergeant Mike Lehmiller, was killed in 2005 while serving in Afghanistan. To honor his son, Bob created Mike's Guardian Eagle Foundation. The Foundation gives financial assistance to military families who need extra help when their loved ones deploy or if they're wounded or killed on the field of battle.
All these families have already given so much to America, and yet they have found a way to give even more. We thank each of them. And we thank every one of our citizens who supports our troops with letters, and donations, or prayers.
At this time of year, we acknowledge that love and sacrifice can transform our world. The miracle of Christmas reminds us that God's grace is revealed in the humblest places. Two thousand years ago, the fullness of that grace was found in a tiny manger, and the life born that day changed our world forever. As Christmas approaches, Laura and I extend to all Americans our best wishes, and we hope every family is brought closer together during this season of reflection and rejoicing.
Thank you for listening, and Merry Christmas.