THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week, Americans gather with loved ones to celebrate Thanksgiving. This holiday season is a time of fellowship and peace. And it is a time to give thanks for our many blessings.
During this holiday season, we give thanks for generations of Americans who overcame hardships to create and sustain a free Nation. When the Pilgrims celebrated their first Thanksgiving nearly four centuries ago, they had already suffered through a harsh and bitter winter. But they were willing to endure that adversity to live in a land where they could worship the Almighty without persecution. When President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, the United States was in the midst of a terrible civil war. But in that hour of trial he gave thanks -- because he believed America would weather the storm and emerge into a new era of liberty.
During this holiday season, we give thanks for those who defend our freedom. America's men and women in uniform deserve our highest respect -- and so do the families who love and support them. Lately, I have been asked what I will miss about the presidency. And my answer is that I will miss being the Commander-in-Chief of these brave warriors. In this special time of year, when many of them are serving in distant lands, they are in the thoughts and prayers of all Americans.
During this holiday season, we give thanks for the kindness of citizens throughout our Nation. It is a testament to the goodness of our people that on Thanksgiving, millions of Americans reach out to those who have little. The true spirit of the holidays can be seen in the generous volunteers who bring comfort to the poor and the sick and the elderly. These men and women are selfless members of our Nation's armies of compassion -- and they make our country a better place, one heart and one soul at a time.
Finally, I have a special note of thanks to the American people. On this, my last Thanksgiving as your President, I am thankful for the good will, kind words, and heartfelt prayers that so many of you have offered me during the past eight years. I have been blessed to represent such decent, brave, and caring people. For that, I will always be grateful, and I will always be honored. Thank you for listening.