President Donald Trump praised U.S. troops Thursday and thanked them for their service, while noting what he sees as his own personal accomplishments as president, in a Thanksgiving Day message to service members around the world.
"It's an honor to speak with you and to give God thanks for the blessings of freedom and for the heroes who have the courage that you do to defend us and defend freedom," Trump said via video teleconference.
The president, who is spending the holiday weekend at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, also touted what he saw as recent U.S. military advances to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We're not fighting anymore to just walk around," Trump said of his August decision to expand the U.S. war in Afghanistan. "We're fighting to win. And you've really turned it around over the last three to four months like nobody's seen."
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, this week acknowledged the 16-year-old conflict remains at a stalemate and that insurgents control roughly the same amount of territory and population as last year.
But U.S. forces have made greater progress battling Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. "We're really winning," Trump said of Iraq, adding that previous U.S. administrations "weren't letting you win before."
Trump, who plans to visit a U.S. Coast Guard facility later Thursday, also told the troops that "we're doing well at home."
"The economy is doing really great. When you come back, you're going to see with the jobs and companies back into our country and the stock market just hit a record high. Unemployment is the lowest it has been in 17 years," he added.
He also told the troops that he was working on "big, fat, beautiful tax cuts."
Elsewhere, Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving as they traditionally do — gathering with family and friends around tables groaning with food, watching parades and football games, and, for many, starting their holiday shopping.
But the 2017 celebrations, including the iconic Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan, will be under close scrutiny.
The parade comes just weeks after an Uzbek migrant was accused of driving a rented truck onto a crowded New York bike path, killing eight people.
New York officials said security would include police sharpshooters, as well as sand-laden dump trucks and bomb-sniffing dogs.
While they have verified no credible threats, the New York City Police Department said it is deploying thousands of police officers along the 4-kilometer (2.5-mile) route through Manhattan.
Thanksgiving has many traditions, not the least of which is traveling to be with their family and friends. Almost 49 million people were expected to take to the roads, air and railways ahead of the holiday — 1 million more than last year — making it the busiest Thanksgiving holiday travel period in almost a decade.
President Trump wielded his pardon power Tuesday to spare a pair of turkeys from the Thanksgiving roaster.
When Trump returns to the White House, it will have been transformed for Christmas by an army of volunteer decorators and florists who will spend the weekend decking its halls. First lady Melania Trump and son Barron on Monday accepted delivery of the official White House Christmas tree. It goes on display in the White House Blue Room.
The White House plans to unveil the holiday decor on Monday, and the first lady will also welcome children and students from nearby Joint Base Andrews for holiday arts and crafts. The president is scheduled to light the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse, adjacent to the White House, November 30.
And then shopping
Thanksgiving marks the start of the holiday season in the United States.
Black Friday, as the Friday after Thanksgiving is known, is a day for big sales on clothing, toys and appliances, as people begin their holiday shopping.