Hi, everybody. On behalf of the Obama family – Michelle, Malia, Sasha, Grandma, Bo, and Sunny – I want to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving. Like so many of you, we’ll spend the day with friends and family, turkey and touchdowns. We’ll give thanks for each other, and for all that God has given us. And we’ll reflect on what truly binds us as Americans.
That’s never been more important. As a country, we’ve just emerged from a noisy, passionate, and sometimes divisive campaign season. After all, elections are often where we emphasize what sets us apart. We face off in a contest of “us” versus “them.” We focus on the candidate we support instead of some of the ideals we share.
But a few short weeks later, Thanksgiving reminds us that no matter our differences, we are still one people, part of something bigger than ourselves. We are communities that move forward together. We are neighbors who look out for one another, especially those among us with the least. We are always, simply, Americans.
That’s why, through the fog of Civil War, President Lincoln saw what mattered most – the unalienable truths for which so many gave their lives, and which made possible “a new birth of freedom.” And so precisely when the fate of the Union hung in the balance, he boldly proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving, when the nation’s gifts “should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people.”
Today, we continue to give thanks for those blessings, and to all who ensured that they would be our inheritance. We remember the determined patriots who landed at the edge of the world in search of freedom. We give thanks to the brave men and women who defend that freedom in every corner of the world. And we honor all people – from the First Americans to our newest arrivals – who continue to shape our nation’s story, enrich our heritage, and give meaning to our founding values, values we must never take for granted. That in America, we are bound not by any one race or religion, but rather an adherence to a common belief – that all of us are created equal. That we may think, worship, and speak, and love as we please. That the gift of democracy is ours, and ours alone, to nurture and protect.
Never doubt, that is what makes us American – not where we come from, what we look like, or what faith we practice, but the ideals to which we pledge our allegiance. It’s about our capacity to live up to the creed as old as our founding: “E Pluribus Unum” – that out of many, we are one. And as long as we continue to welcome the contributions of all people, as long as we stand up for each other, speak out for what is right, and stay true to these ideals – not just when it’s easy, but when it’s hard – then no one can ever take away our liberty. Our best days will always be ahead. And we will keep building a future where all of our children know the promise of America.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.