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October 27, 2009

Bush Telephones Service Members on Thanksgiving

by Scott Stearns

This Thanksgiving holiday President Bush says Americans are grateful for members of the U.S. military serving overseas. VOA White House correspondent Scott Stearns reports the president and Mrs. Bush are spending the holiday at the presidential retreat at Camp David.

President Bush telephoned a dozen American servicemen and women to wish them a happy Thanksgiving.

He called seven Army, Marine, and Air Force sergeants and a Navy petty officer in Iraq, a surface warfare specialist and a Coast Guard supply coordinator at sea in the Arabian Gulf, an airman in Afghanistan, and a Coast Guard watch supervisor in the Pacific.

In Thanksgiving comments earlier this week, Mr. Bush says Americans are grateful for the sacrifices of U.S. service men and women who are taking risks to protect the nation's freedom.

"They are fighting on the front lines of the war on terror, the war against extremists and radicals who would do us more harm," he said. "Many of them will spend Thanksgiving far from the comforts of home. And so we thank them for their service and sacrifice. We keep their families and loved ones in our prayers. We pray for the families who lost a loved one in this fight against the extremists and radicals, and we vow that their sacrifice will not be in vain."

President Bush says Americans pay tribute to those who serve a cause larger than themselves. He says people are thankful for religious leaders who call Americans to lives of charity in a nation of great prosperity.

"We are blessed with farmers and ranchers who provide us with abundant food," he said. "We are blessed with the world's finest workers; with entrepreneurs who create new jobs. We are blessed with devoted teachers who prepare our children for the opportunities of tomorrow. We are blessed with a system of free enterprise that makes it possible for people of all backgrounds to rise in society and realize their dreams."

It is a traditional Thanksgiving menu at Camp David: roast turkey, cornbread dressing, jellied cranberries, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie.

The president and Mrs. Bush are joined by their daughters, Barbara and Jenna, as well as Jenna's fiancé Henry Hagar. It was at Camp David that Hagar asked the president for permission to marry his daughter earlier this year.

Mr. Bush recounted the story in an interview earlier this week with Charles Gibson of ABC News.

BUSH: "Henry came earlier in the day and said, 'I'd like to see you.'

GIBSON: "And you knew?"

BUSH: "I knew, because I had asked Jenna earlier, 'If Henry ever asked you to marry him would you say yes?' And she said, 'Absolutely. I love him.' And he came in and gave a very adept presentation."

GIBSON: "I heard you made him sweat."

BUSH: Well, yes a slight bit. Not a lot.

The president says he told Hagar, "You got a deal." Mrs. Bush says her husband said yes so fast that the business student did not have time to finish his prepared speech.