President-elect Barack Obama offered a somber holiday message in his latest weekly radio address, released on Christmas Eve, reaching out to the troops stationed abroad and their families, and speaking directly to Americans who have lost their jobs in the struggling economy.
He called Americans not into specific action during this "season of giving," but asked them to reflect "on starting a new chapter for our great country" by way of adopting a sentiment in the New Year, "that I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper."
"That is how we will see ourselves through this time of crisis," Obama said.
The president-elect, who is vacationing in Hawaii with his family and close friends until after the New Year, also said he and his wife, Michelle, have the troops in their prayers this Christmas.
"Many troops are serving their second, third, or even fourth tour of duty," Obama said.
"This holiday season, their families celebrate with a joy that is muted knowing that a loved one is absent, and sometimes in danger. In towns and cities across America, there is an empty seat at the dinner table; in distant bases and on ships at sea, our servicemen and women can only wonder at the look on their child's face as they open a gift back home."
He ended the address by recalling the "first American Christmas":
"It was Christmas Day — December 25th, 1776 — that they fought through ice and cold to make an improbable crossing of the Delaware River. They caught the enemy off guard, won victories in Trenton and Princeton, and gave new momentum to a beleaguered Army and new hope to the cause of Independence.
"Many ages have passed since that first American Christmas. We have crossed many rivers as a people. But the lessons that have carried us through are the same lessons that we celebrate every Christmas season — the same lessons that guide us to this very day: that hope endures, and that a new birth of peace is always possible."