Obama Thanks Service Members From Hawaii on Christmas Day

While speaking to service members today at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, President Barack Obama said, “it has been the privilege of my life to serve as your commander in chief.”

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama greet Marines and their family members during a Christmas Day visit to Anderson Hall Dining Facility, Dec. 25 back in 20012. The president and his wife spent time with Marines, sailors, civilians, retirees and community members aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Photo by Lance Cpl. Nathan Knapke (released).

The president said he and Michelle know how it feels to stand alongside military families and veterans, according to remarks released by the White House today.

“This is one of our favorite things to do, because it’s one of those circumstances where we 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,” the soon to be outgoing commander in chief said.

The president said he is thankful for the “unbelievable service” service members have rendered the country.

“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; 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,” the president said.

“… As tough as it is to be deployed, the people here in America, back home, understand that every single day that you’re serving, you’re fighting for our freedom and fighting to keep us safe and fighting to maintain our way of life,” the president said.  “It’s impossible for us to fully repay what you’ve done and the sacrifices you make.  But at least it’s important to hear from us that what you do matters, and that we know about it, and that we’re grateful, and that we’ll stay grateful even when many of you end up being out of uniform and are veterans, and that we make sure that we’re serving you as well you served us.”

“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,” the president said.

Hokulea’s Crew Celebrate Christmas in Caribbean Waters

Crewmembers aboard the historic vessel Hokulea are celebrating Christmas Day at sea while in transit to Panama where they will clear customs before crossing the Panama Canal.

With approximately a week to go before Hokulea reaches Panama, the crew took the opportunity to decorate the canoe with festive trimmings to get into the holiday spirit while they are away from their families and loved ones over the holiday season.

“Not many people get to celebrate the holidays while at sea on the deck of Hokulea during this epic around-the-world voyage,” said Hokulea captain and pwo navigator Bruce Blankenfeld. “As much as we’d love to be home in Hawaii with our loved ones at this time of year, we are all truly honored to be sailing Hokulea to share our Malama Honua message with communities around the world.”

Hokulea was sailing along the coast of Cuba today and will arrive in Panama around December 31, where the crew will possibly ring in the new year. Once she re-enters the Pacific Ocean, Hokulea will make stops in the Galapagos Islands, Rapa Nui and French Polynesia before her sail west back to a celebratory homecoming at Magic Island in June 2017.