Obama, as has been his practice during previous holidays, reached out to service members from the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy.
"The president thanked each of them for their service and sacrifice and wished them and their families a happy Thanksgiving," the White House said.
The president was joining first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters, Sasha and Malia, later Thursday for dinner, where they were to be joined by White House staff members and guests.
In his weekly radio and Internet address, released in connection with the holiday, Obama urged Americans to put aside partisan differences and come together as a nation.
He said the country has "just emerged from a campaign season that was passionate, noisy and vital to our democracy."
While the election required voters to make choices, Obama said that Thanksgiving offered "a chance to put it all in perspective — to remember that, despite our differences, we are and always will be Americans first and foremost."
In the Republican Party address, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state said the GOP is ready to work with Obama to avert impending tax increases, big spending cuts and other problems at year's end.
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