By Meghashyam Mali - 12/24/11 11:00 AM EST
The president and first lady thanked American troops for their service and wished them holiday greetings in this week's White House address.
"For many military families, the best gift this year is a simple one — welcoming a loved one back for the holidays," said President Obama. "You see, after nearly nine years, our war in Iraq is over. Our troops are coming home, and across America, military families are being reunited."
On Sunday, Dec. 17, the last American troops departed Iraq, fulfilling Obama's pledge to withdraw all forces by year’s end.
"Let’s take a moment to give thanks for their service, for their families’ service, for our veterans’ service. And let’s say a prayer for all our troops standing post all over the world, especially our brave men and women in Afghanistan who are serving, even as we speak, in harm’s way to protect the freedoms and security we hold dear," said Obama.
The first lady joined in encouraging people to find ways to give back to military members and their families.
"Let’s ask ourselves, 'How can I give back? How can my family serve them as well as they’ve served us,' ” said Michelle Obama.
The first lady called on people to visit JoiningForces.gov "to find out how you can get involved in your community."
The president said that "service to others" best represented the holiday spirit. "For my family and millions of Americans, that's what Christmas is all about," he said.
"So whatever you believe, wherever you’re from, let’s remember the spirit of service that connects us all this season — as Americans," said Obama.
“Each of us can do our part to serve our communities and our country, not just today, but every day."