Less than a week after six U.S. airmen were killed in a suicide bombing while on patrol outside Afghanistan's Bagram Air Base, the first family issued a touching holiday message of thanks to the nation's troops, according to the Washington Post.
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama spent part of their Christmas Day with American service members at the Marine base in Kanoehe Bay, Hawaii, thanking U.S. troops for their work and posing for a few hundred photographs, the report says. The president spoke before an estimated 460 service members and their families.
"Even though we have been able to reduce the number of folks who are deployed in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, there are still folks over there every single day and it's still dangerous," President Obama said, notes the report. He described the six airmen as "outstanding brave Americans."
Obama also noted the sacrifices after 14 years of war as the first lady stood at his side: "We know when you are deployed overseas, it's tough," he said, writes the Post.
The event has become an annual tradition for the president and first lady.
"This is one of our favorite things to do every single year, because not only are we in Hawaii for Christmas, but we're also able to say thank you on behalf of the American people," the president said, according to CNN. "So many families here are serving tirelessly. And it's not just those in uniform who serve; it's also the spouses, the kids. There are times when you're missing birthdays, missing soccer games, making sacrifices."