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President Obama expresses gratitude to troops, civilians during visit to joint base

President Barack Obama addresses a crowd of service members and Defense Department civilians Dec. 15, 2014, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. The event allowed more than 3,000 military and civilian personnel to listen to their commander in chief discuss current conflicts and mission readiness, but more importantly thank the attendees for their service and dedication to their nation. (U.S. Air Force photo/Russ Meseroll)

President Barack Obama addresses a crowd of service members and Defense Department civilians Dec. 15, 2014, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. The event allowed more than 3,000 military and civilian personnel to listen to their commander in chief discuss current conflicts and mission readiness, but more importantly thank the attendees for their service and dedication to their nation. (U.S. Air Force photo/Russ Meseroll)

President Barack Obama addresses a crowd of service members and Defense Department civilians Dec. 15, 2014, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. The event allowed more than 3,000 military and civilian personnel to listen to their commander in chief discuss current conflicts and mission readiness, but more importantly thank the attendees for their service and dedication to their nation. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Scott Saldukas)

President Barack Obama addresses a crowd of service members and Defense Department civilians Dec. 15, 2014, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. The event allowed more than 3,000 military and civilian personnel to listen to their commander in chief discuss current conflicts and mission readiness, but more importantly thank the attendees for their service and dedication to their nation. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Scott Saldukas)

President Barack Obama addresses a crowd of service members and Defense Department civilians Dec. 15, 2014, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. The event allowed more than 3,000 military and civilian personnel to listen to their commander in chief discuss current conflicts and mission readiness, but more importantly thank the attendees for their service and dedication to their nation. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Scott Saldukas)

President Barack Obama addresses a crowd of service members and Defense Department civilians Dec. 15, 2014, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. The event allowed more than 3,000 military and civilian personnel to listen to their commander in chief discuss current conflicts and mission readiness, but more importantly thank the attendees for their service and dedication to their nation. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Scott Saldukas)

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. (AFNS) -- President Barack Obama visited Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, to express his gratitude to service members and Department of Defense civilians for their service to their country during a meet and greet event Dec. 15.

The event allowed more than 3,000 military and civilian personnel to listen to their commander in chief discuss current conflicts and mission readiness, but more importantly to thank the attendees for their service and dedication to their nation.

"Part of the message I'm here to deliver on behalf of the American people is very simple: It's just to say thank you," the president said. "Thank you for your extraordinary service. I thank you as your president because you inspire me. And of all the privileges I have in serving in this office, nothing comes close to the honor of serving as your commander-in chief."

He explained how differences and disagreements will always be around; however, when it comes to service members and their families, Americans will always stand united.

"That's especially true now, during the holidays," he said. "We can gather with family and friends because you're willing to hug yours goodbye and step forward to serve. After a long day, we can come home because you're willing to leave your home and deploy. We get to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and holidays, go to soccer games and go to dance recitals because you're willing to miss those in your family. We're free and safe and secure over here because you're willing to serve over there."

The president noted how the selfless character of today's military force is a precious gift that is given all year every year.

"What makes us special, what makes us the best is all of you," Obama said. "It's your character and your willingness to say, 'send me.' Your dedication to duty, your courage, and your readiness to defend our values and our ideals of freedom and liberty, not just for us, but for people all around the world. You are the backbone of the greatest nation on Earth, and you always will be that. And for that, America is eternally grateful, and I am incredibly proud to serve as your commander in chief. So, happy holidays, everybody and God bless you. God bless your families. God bless our armed forces. God bless the United States of America. Thank you."

(Information courtesy of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs)

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