Nimitz Thanksgiving
Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander, U.S. Central Command, carves a turkey prior to serving Thanksgiving dinner to sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.

WASHINGTON (Nov. 25, 2009) -- President Barack Obama and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, released Thanksgiving messages today.

Obama recalled that President George Washington proclaimed the first public thanksgiving, and President Abraham Lincoln established the annual Thanksgiving Day holiday to mend the nation during the Civil War.

It is Thanksgiving as a unique American tradition that "binds us together as one people, each of us thankful for our common blessings," the president said.

Obama added, "As we gather once again among loved ones, let us also reach out to our neighbors and fellow citizens in need of a helping hand. This is a time for us to renew our bonds with one another, and we can fulfill that commitment by serving our communities and our nation throughout the year."

"In doing so, we pay tribute to our country's men and women in uniform who set an example of service that inspires us all. Let us be guided by the legacy of those who have fought for the freedoms for which we give thanks, and be worthy heirs to the noble tradition of goodwill shown on this day."

Mullen's Thanksgiving Day message follows in its entirety.

"On behalf of the Mullen family, I wish all of you serving in uniform today -- as well as your families -- a very safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday."

"We certainly have much for which to be grateful. Today, due in no small measure to your dedication, our nation -- indeed the world -- is a safer place to live. All around the globe and in all manner of ways, you stand a vigilant watch. From Afghanistan to Iraq and a thousand places in between, you help ensure peace and stability in places that have historically known neither. Giving hope to those in need and pause to those who threaten us, you make sure the fight remains on the enemy's doorstep and that lives torn asunder by war and natural disaster are restored and renewed."

"The people you have helped are grateful ... Americans everywhere are grateful ... and I am grateful for your service."

"That service, of course, can and does demand the highest of sacrifices. We should be especially mindful this year of those families who will have one less chair at the table, as well as those who have no chair at all, much less a home in which to keep it. Theirs will be a particularly poignant holiday, and I ask you to keep them in your thoughts and prayers."

"We live in a country that doesn't force its young men and women to pick up arms. You do it willingly, even eagerly -- not because you enjoy danger or killing or sacrifice, but rather in spite of those things. You and your families serve and work so hard so that someday perhaps your children and grandchildren might not have to. That is the greatest gift you can give a grateful nation."

"Again, from my family to yours, thank you for all you do."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16