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Walter Reed Medical Center
Bethesda, Maryland

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you, Admiral.  Thank you to — let’s hear it for the USO.  (Applause.)  It’s great to (inaudible).  Thank you all for letting us join you this evening.  Just a very, very special time of the year.

And I want to bring — I want to bring greetings tonight from another great champion of our armed forces and all the great families gathered here.  And, as someone who also shares the profound gratitude that we feel for all that you and your families have done for this country, I want to bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States, President Donald Trump.  Thank you all.  (Applause.)

We just came out today to really say thank you.  Thank you for your service.  Thank you for all the sacrifices that your families have made.  You all really are — you’re from the rest of us, but you are the best of us.  And the service that is represented here today, and the courage that so many of you have shown not only in uniform, but in the midst of recovery is just a great inspiration to us.

But we just wanted to come out and make sure you felt, in this special time of the year, the real gratitude not only of our family and the First Family, but really of the American people for all you’ve done for this country.

You know, people are going to gather around hearth and home in the days ahead, celebrating Christmas, presents under the tree, attending worship services all across this country, celebrating the gift of the manger.  We’ll all be able to do that in freedom because of service like that represented here today.

Each one of you answered the call, in this all-volunteer military, to serve your country.  And you paid a price of time, and many of you paid a price beyond that and faced physical challenges in your life as a result.  But I want you to know that every American who will be celebrating that faith, that tradition, and celebrating that freedom will have you on their hearts.  And we’re just one of those families that feels just that way.

So on behalf of our family, on behalf of the First Family, I want to say thank you to the great team here at the USO Operations Center.  Thank you for the great work that you do for our soldiers and their families.

And on behalf of all of us, from our family to your family, merry Christmas.  And thanks for having us here tonight.  (Applause.)