Washington, D.C. (AHN) - President Barack Obama used his first Thanksgiving message to assure the nation that the jobless would be working, and struggling families would be celebrating a more joyful holiday next year. In their Thanksgiving address, Republicans thanked service members for their sacrifice and issued their oft-repeated question to the Obama administration, where are the jobs?
"We keep in our thoughts and prayers the many families marking this Thanksgiving with an empty seat - saved for a son or daughter, or husband or wife, stationed in harm's way," the President said. "And we say a special thanks for the sacrifices those men and women in uniform are making for our safety and freedom, and for all those Americans who enrich the lives of our communities through acts of kindness, generosity and service."
"As much as we all have to be thankful for, we also know that this year millions of Americans are facing very difficult economic times. Many have lost jobs in this recession - the worst in generations. Many more are struggling to afford health care premiums and house payments, let alone to save for an education or retirement. These are not strangers. They are our family, our friends, and our neighbors. Their struggles must be our concern."
"The investments we have made and tough steps we have taken have helped break the back of the recession, and now our economy is finally growing again," Obama added. "Though the job losses we were experiencing earlier this year have slowed dramatically, we're still not creating enough new jobs each month to make up for the ones we're losing. And no matter what the economists say, for families and communities across the country, this recession will not end until we completely turn that tide."
"So we've made progress. But we cannot rest - and my administration will not rest - until we have revived this economy and rebuilt it stronger than before... it is my fervent hope - and my heartfelt expectation - that next Thanksgiving we will be able to celebrate the fact that many of those who have lost their jobs are back at work, and that as a nation we will have come through these difficult storms stronger and wiser and grateful to have reached a brighter day."
Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), chairman of the House Republican Conference, discussed the economy in the GOP's holiday message.
"Even in times of struggle and trial, we have much to be thankful for, beginning with our men and women in uniform," Pence began. "The tragic events of Fort Hood that whether they serve at home or abroad, we owe our soldiers and their families a debt of gratitude we will never be able to repay."
"Millions of families have seen jobs and careers vanish in the midst of the recession," he continued. "Many are asking, when will things get better? Many more are asking, where are the jobs? President Obama told the American people that his last $787 billion jobs bill, the so-called stimulus package, will ensure that unemployment will not go above 8 percent. And the administration continues to insist that their stimulus plan is working. Unemployment is now at a heartbreaking 10.2 percent."
"What is the White House's answer to our struggles? Another meeting next week. A 'jobs summit,' and most likely another proposal to grow government, raise taxes and place more debt on the shoulders of our children and grandchildren... And as if all this wasn't enough. Democrats in Washington continue to push for government run insurance. A government takeover of healthcare will do nothing to lower the cost of health insurance, and will place further burdens on small business owners and working families."
"The way to stimulate this economy and help working families is to let Americans keep more of their hard-earned money, not taking more from their wallets," Pence added. "Republicans have proposals to get our economy moving again, to achieve energy independence and lower the cost of health care."
The messages were after the annual turkey pardoning at the White House.
The President pardoned his first turkey, named Courage, on the North Portico, joking that, "Thanks to the interventions of Malia and Sasha -- because I was planning to eat this sucker --- Courage will be spared this terrible and delicious fate."
"You know, there are certain days that remind me of why I ran for this office. And then there are moments like this -- where I pardon a turkey and send it to Disneyland," the President added.
Courage and an alternate turkey named Carolina were both brought to Disneyland Resort in California after the ceremony, following tradition. Both birds will serve as the grand marshals of Disneyland's annual Thanksgiving day parade. After the parade, the turkeys will live out their days in the Frontierland section where people can visit them.
Obama will be spending Thanksgiving day at the White House with the First Lady and his two daughters. The four-day holiday caps a hectic month for the President in which he made his maiden visit to Asia, marked his first Veterans Day as commander-in-chief with a memorial service at Fort Hood, and successfully pushed for the passage of healthcare bills in the House and the Senate despite the united opposition of Republicans. The President also held his final Afghan war council with members of his national security team, ahead of his announcement about the new strategy in Afghanistan next week.