WASHINGTON — In this week’s address, President Obama wished the American people a happy Thanksgiving, giving a special thanks to the brave men and women serving overseas and those giving back at shelters and soup kitchens in their communities during the holidays. Those who celebrated the first Thanksgiving persevered by drawing strength from each other, and today we once again come together in that spirit of unity to overcome our challenges, remaining thankful for our freedom and the blessings of family, community, and country.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
Thursday, November 24, 2011
The White House
From my family to yours, I’d like to wish you a happy Thanksgiving. Like millions of Americans, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and I will spend the day eating great food, watching a little football, and reflecting on how truly lucky we truly are.
As Americans, each of us has our own list of things and people to be thankful for. But there are some blessings we all share.
We’re especially grateful for the men and women who defend our country overseas. To all the service members eating Thanksgiving dinner far from your families: the American people are thinking of you today. And when you come home, we intend to make sure that we serve you as well as you’re serving America.
We’re also grateful for the Americans who are taking time out of their holiday to serve in soup kitchens and shelters, making sure their neighbors have a hot meal and a place to stay. This sense of mutual responsibility – the idea that I am my brother’s keeper; that I am my sister’s keeper – has always been a part of what makes our country special. And it’s one of the reasons the Thanksgiving tradition has endured.
The very first Thanksgiving was a celebration of community during a time of great hardship, and we have followed that example ever since. Even when the fate of our union was far from certain – during a Civil War, two World Wars, a Great Depression – Americans drew strength from each other. They had faith that tomorrow would be better than today.
We’re grateful that they did. As we gather around the table, we pause to remember the pilgrims, pioneers, and patriots who helped make this country what it is. They faced impossible odds, and yet somehow, they persevered. Today, it’s our turn.
I know that for many of you, this Thanksgiving is more difficult than most. But no matter how tough things are right now, we still give thanks for that most American of blessings, the chance to determine our own destiny. The problems we face didn’t develop overnight, and we won’t solve them overnight. But we will solve them. All it takes is for each of us to do our part.
With all the partisanship and gridlock here in Washington, it’s easy to wonder if such unity is really possible. But think about what’s happening at this very moment: Americans from all walks of life are coming together as one people, grateful for the blessings of family, community, and country.
If we keep that spirit alive, if we support each other, and look out for each other, and remember that we’re all in this together, then I know that we too will overcome the challenges of our time.
So today, I’m thankful to serve as your President and Commander-and-Chief. I’m thankful that my daughters get to grow up in this great country of ours. And I’m thankful for the chance to do my part, as together, we make tomorrow better than today.
Thanks, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving
President Obama pardoned both Liberty, this year’s National Thanksgiving Turkey, and its alternate Peace. The birds were raised by four high school students on a farm in Willmar, Minnesota and sent to live in Mt. Vernon after the pardoning ceremony.
Presidents have pardoned 24 Thanksgiving turkeys since President George H.W. Bush started the tradition in 1989, The turkeys are donated from turkey farms around the country, and after being spared from the dinner table, are sent to live out their days on a farm. In past years, pardoned turkeys have even traveled to California to serve as marshals in the Thanksgiving Day Parade at Disney Land.
Want to know more? Read our definitive history of the Presidential Turkey Pardon.