In his Thanksgiving speech the U.S. President Barack Obama appealed anew for acceptance of Syrian refugees, saying “so much of our greatness comes from our generosity.”
In his weekly radio address, Obama urged Americans and the rest of the worldÂ to accept an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees this year and notedÂ that the policy is in keeping with U.S. tradition.
“Nearly four centuries after the Mayflower set sail, the world is still full of pilgrims,” he said, “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.”
He said he has been “touched by the generosity of Americans who’ve written me letters and emails in recent weeks, offering to open their homes to refugees fleeing the brutality of ISIL (Islamic State group).”
Obama’s plan to receive thousands of additional Syrian refugees has come under heavy criticism in Congress and has become a key part of the 2016 presidential campaign rhetoric in the wake of a series of attacks Nov. 13 on Paris.
Obama has also argued refugees will be well screened.
“People should remember that no refugee can enter our borders until they undergo the highest security checks of anyone traveling to the United States,” he said.
In his address, the president quoted from letters he had received from Americans welcoming Syrian refugees.
“One woman from Pennsylvania wrote me to say, ‘Money is tight for us in my household … But I have a guest room.Â I have a pantry full of food.Â We can do this,'” Obama remembered.
“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,'” he added.
“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,” Obama summed up his message. “That’s part of what makes this the greatest country on Earth.”
In his speech the U.S. President alsoÂ managed to get a few laughs from his patient daughters.
Announcing that a turkey named “Abe” was to be officially pardoned by the President, heÂ couldn’t resist telling some terrible dad jokes – including one naming Abe “Turkey of the United States”, or Totus, (a pun on Potus).
“Itâ€™s hard to believe this is my seventh year of pardoning a turkey,” he began. “Time flies. Even if turkeys don’t.”
Obama rounded off the pardoning with a touching thank you to his daughters “for once again standing here with me during the turkey pardoning.”
“They do this solely because it makes me feel good,” he said. “Not because they actually think that this is something I should be doing.”
Obama also reminded AmericansÂ that Thanksgiving isÂ not just an opportunity for people to give thanks for their personal blessings.
“On this uniquely American holiday, we also remember that so much of our greatness comes from our generosity,” he said.