Obama pays tribute to U.S. troops on Christmas

President Obama on Sunday paid tribute to U.S. service members and to his faith, marking his third Christmas as commander in chief by making phone calls to troops and attending church with his family.

Having recently hailed the end of the U.S. war in Iraq, Obama spent Christmas Eve speaking by phone to 10 members of the armed forces — thanking two from each service, White House aides said. The president and his family were scheduled Sunday evening to visit Marines stationed at a base here .

In the morning, Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, along with their daughters, Malia and Sasha, attended services at the Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay Chapel. The president was dressed casually in a navy polo shirt and khaki slacks.

The first lady wore a white dress with stripes in an array of colors, along with orange flats.

Sasha donned a dark dress with a colorful dot pattern. And Malia wore a white dress.

The family opened Christmas presents and sang in the morning, aides said.

There was no word on the presents, but Obama had revealed some of the gifts he got for his daughters when he went shopping in Alexandria last week. He bought a Nintendo Wii video game, “Just Dance 3,” and an iTunes gift card.

“The girls beat me every time on these dance games,” he quipped to reporters that day, adding: “You’ll never get a picture of me [playing] because I get graded F every time.”

Obama is in Hawaii for a 10-day vacation.

He and his family have come every year during his presidency, and the president has tried to stay out of the limelight during his vacations.

After arriving Friday night, he went to dinner at a Japanese restaurant with family and friends, and on Saturday he spent more than five hours on a golf course with longtime friends and White House aides.

The first lady got into the Christmas spirit Saturday, helping children track the progress of Santa Claus through the NORAD program.

Local residents have greeted the native of Hawaii warmly. As the Obama motorcade made its way to the Marine base, a blue sign on the roadside read “E komo mai ohana Obama,” welcoming the first family to town.

The president, who is staying in a rental compound, is scheduled to remain in Hawaii until Jan. 2, when he will return to Washington.

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.


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