"America's brave service and women represent a small fraction of our population," Obama said in a Christmas message. "But they and the families who await their safe return carry far more than their fair share of the burden. They've done everything they've been asked to do... And even as we speak, many are fighting halfway around the globe, in hopes that some day our children and grandchildren won't have to."
Obama, who is spending the holidays in Hawaii, was joined by First Lady Michelle Obama for an unusual joint address. "You don't need to be an expert in military life to give back to those who give us so much," she said, "There are countless ways to contribute by harnessing your unique talents." For ideas, the Obamas' suggested visiting Serve.gov on the Web.
The president has no public events scheduled during his 11-day stay at an oceanfront rental in Kailua on the island of Oahu. But he will get daily briefings and planned to begin working on his State of the Union speech, the AP said. He spoke by phone Thursday with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the day after the Senate ratified a nuclear arms pact between Russia and the U.S. But he's also got in a round of golf, played basketball and spent some beach time with his two daughters.
On Obama's vacation reading list was a biography of one of America's last cold warriors, Ronald Reagan. The book, "President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime" was written by journalist Lou Cannon, who covered the White House for the Washington Post during Reagan's presidency and is a Politics Daily contributor.
Why are we there?