"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," Obama told the troops

By Stephanie Petit
Updated December 26, 2016 09:38 AM
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Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

President Barack Obama continued his Christmas Day tradition of addressing troops on Sunday, thanking hundreds of men and women at the base on Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii for their service.

The president and First Lady Michelle Obama told the Marines that their Christmas visit was one of their beloved traditions.

“This is one of our favorite things to do because it’s one of those circumstances where you 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,” said Mr. Obama.

The president said it has been “the privilege of my life” to serve as the commander in chief of the U.S. military, and reminded the troops how appreciated they are.

“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,” he said. “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 they’re serving, they are fighting for our freedom, they’re fighting to keep us safe and fighting to maintain our way of life.”

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Mr. Obama said that although it was his final time addressing them while in the White House, his gratitude for those in service would never end before he and the first lady spent about an hour greeting the troops.

“It’s impossible for us to fully repay what you’ve done and the sacrifices that you’ve made, but at least it’s important to hear from us that what you do matters,” he said. “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.”