Barack Obama photo

Remarks at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii

December 25, 2016

The President. Hello, everybody! Merry Christmas!

Audience members. Merry Christmas!

The President. Aloha! Mele Kalikimaka!

Audience members. Aloha!

The President. Thank you so much. Well, I just want to, first of all, thank Colonel Killeen and General Cavanaugh and Sergeant Major Hall and all of you for the unbelievable service that you have rendered our country. This is one of our favorite things to do, because it's one of those circumstances where we get a chance to not just say thank you to our incredible men and women in uniform, but oftentimes, we also get a chance to see some families.

And as Michelle and Jill Biden have worked so diligently to tell the rest of the country, not only do our troops serve, but their families serve alongside them.

[At this point, the First Lady applauded and cheered.]

See—[applause]—that's what she just said.

And yesterday, during Christmas, something that I've been doing during Christmas in——

The First Lady. Today is Christmas.

The President. Or yesterday, during Christmas Eve, thank you, but it was Christmas——

The First Lady. He's on vacation. [Laughter]

The President. No, no, no, hold on. There's a reason for that slight error, because my time was off. Yesterday I called—as I do every Christmas—some of our folks that are stationed overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan and some in some very remote spots; some of them who, as we speak, are carrying out missions to defeat ISIL, carrying out missions to protect us from all manner of threat.

And just to remind them that, as tough as it is to be deployed, the people here in America, back home, understand that every single day that you're serving, you're fighting for our freedom and fighting to keep us safe and fighting to maintain our way of life. It's impossible for us to fully repay what you've done and the sacrifices you make. But at least, it's important to hear from us that what you do matters and that we know about it and that we're grateful and that we'll stay grateful even when many of you end up being out of uniform and are veterans and that we make sure that we're serving you as well you served us.

So I just want all of you to know that it has been the privilege of my life to serve as your Commander in Chief. I know Michelle feels the same way when it comes to being able to stand alongside our military families and our veterans. And although this will be my last time addressing you as President, I want you to know that, as a citizen, my gratitude will remain and our commitment to standing by you every step of the way, that won't stop.

So thank you so much for everything that you've done. I hope you guys have had a wonderful Christmas. Young people, I hope Santa was okay. [Laughter] And we look forward to seeing you for many years to come, because I understand that I still have a little bit of rank as ex-President. [Laughter] So I still get to use the gym on base—[laughter]—and, of course, the golf course. [Laughter]

So thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. We'll see you taking pictures. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 4:28 p.m. in the mess hall. In his remarks, he referred to Col. Sean C. Killeen, USMC, commanding officer, and Sgt. Maj. Gregory L. Hall, USMC, sergeant major, Marine Corps Base Hawaii; Brig. Gen. Brian W. Cavanaugh, USMC, deputy commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific; and Jill T. Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden. He also referred to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist organization.

Barack Obama, Remarks at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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