Welcoming Refugees Is American Says Obama In Thanksgiving Address

People across America are doing what many governors are refusing to do — offer Syrian refugees shelter. In his weekly address, President Barack Obama said he’s received emails and letters from U.S. citizens “offering to open their homes to refugees fleeing the brutality of ISIL.”

“One woman from Pennsylvania wrote me to say,’Money is tight for us in my household … But I have a guest room. I have a pantry full of food. We can do this.’ Another woman from Florida told me her family’s history dates back to the Mayflower — and she said that welcoming others is part of ‘what it means to be an American.’”

Alluding to the Syrian refugee crisis that has suddenly become a political issue since the Paris terror attacks, Obama said “Nearly four centuries after the Mayflower set sail, the world is still full of pilgrims — men and women who want nothing more than the chance for a safer, better future for themselves and their families. What makes America America is that we offer that chance. We turn Lady Liberty’s light to the world, and widen our circle of concern to say that all God’s children are worthy of our compassion and care. That’s part of what makes this the greatest country on Earth.”

Video and full transcript of President Obama’s Thanksgiving address.

Hi, everybody. In 1620, a small band of pilgrims came to this continent, refugees who had fled persecution and violence in their native land. Nearly 400 years later, we remember their part in the American story — and we honor the men and women who helped them in their time of need.

Thanksgiving is a day for food and football, and for hoping the turkey didn’t turn out too dry. But it’s also a day to count our blessings and give back to others — a reminder that no matter our circumstances, all of us have something to be grateful for. Maybe it’s good health, a new addition to the family, or a child taking a next step toward college or a career. Maybe it’s a new job, or long overdue raise. Maybe it’s something as simple, and as important, as the chance to spend time with the people who matter most.

Of course, every American can be thankful for the chance to live in a country founded on the belief that all of us are created equal. And as President, I’m thankful that I get to see the best of America every day — the courage of our troops and veterans, the resilience of our families, and the basic goodness of the ordinary people who call this country.

On this uniquely American holiday, we also remember that so much of our greatness comes from our generosity. There’s the generosity of Americans who volunteer at food banks and shelters, making sure that no one goes hungry on a day when so many plates are full. There’s the generosity of Americans who take part not just in Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but Giving Tuesday — recognizing that in the holiday season, what you give is as important as what you get.

And I’ve been touched by the generosity of the Americans who’ve written me letters and emails in recent weeks, offering to open their homes to refugees fleeing the brutality of ISIL.

Now, people should remember that no refugee can enter our borders until they undergo the highest security checks of anyone traveling to the United States. That was the case before Paris, and it’s the case now. And what happened in Paris hasn’t stopped Americans from opening their arms anyway.

One woman from Pennsylvania wrote me to say, “Money is tight for us in my household … But I have a guest room. I have a pantry full of food. We can do this.” Another woman from Florida told me her family’s history dates back to the Mayflower — and she said that welcoming others is part of “what it means to be an American.”

Nearly four centuries after the Mayflower set sail, the world is still full of pilgrims — men and women who want nothing more than the chance for a safer, better future for themselves and their families. What makes America America is that we offer that chance. We turn Lady Liberty’s light to the world, and widen our circle of concern to say that all God’s children are worthy of our compassion and care. That’s part of what makes this the greatest country on Earth.

I hope that you and your family have wonderful Thanksgiving, surrounded by loved ones, and full of joy and gratitude. And together, may we all play our own small part in the American story, and write a next chapter that future generations can be thankful for.

From the Obama family to yours, have a great Thanksgiving.

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

One thought on “Welcoming Refugees Is American Says Obama In Thanksgiving Address

  1. Lets see if I can remotely remember what Obama forgot about the ‘immigrants’ who came here with the Mayflower and afterward. Hmmm….these immigrants soon went to war with the original inhabitants to steal their land for crops, animals and wood, Then lets see…oh yeah…these immigrants in time continued this war toward the west coast and in the process forced the ‘Christian’ way on these native people by raping their women, cutting out their body parts and wearing them as decorations, slaughtered the young and old men who were simply trying to defend their way of life, slaughtered millions of bison to starve out the plains natives, gave them infected blankets in their Christian way of genocide, murdered unarmed natives who had signed peace accords with these Christian settlers (immigrants) poisoned some of the foods the whites gave them, forced many on a trek of over a thousand miles in the winter after forcing them off their lands in the south making them walk often with no coverings for their feet, did not allow the native people to even have time to bury their dead along the way, gave several Congressional Medal’s of Honor to troops who slaughtered unarmed natives, forced most onto reservation land that was worthless, took their children away and put them into Christian based schools and beat these children if they dared speak their native language and on and on. Guess the president forgot about that part of the ‘immigrants’ eh? How quickly history gets pushed under the rug for convenience of politics. Ask a Native American what happens without immigration control.