The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
December 12, 2005

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at a Holiday Celebration with Children in Mississippi
Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Center
Gulfport, Mississippi


1:29 P.M. CST

MRS. BUSH: Well, I wanted to come to the Gulf Coast. I was in Metairie, Louisiana, this morning at a big church that's still feeding a lot of people every day and trying to offer counseling services and other services for people who are still affected. And I know here in Gulfport and across the Mississippi Gulf Coast, there are many people who will not spend their Christmas in the White House, they'll be -- I mean, in their house -- they will be living with other family still or in hotels or in trailers. But I want to encourage families to do whatever they can to have as normal a Christmas as possible. Your children need a normal life. They take their cues from you, and so if you act like you can handle it, they'll be able to.

So I want to encourage families to try to have all the same celebrations you would have had, to enjoy the same Christmas foods that you would have had before, make -- try not to let your children be sad over the holidays. And I think parents can do that by giving their children a lot of emotional support.

If you know you or your children need counseling, or need some kind of special help -- and a lot of people do over the holidays, even if they haven't suffered severe loss -- you should try to reach out, reach out to the different -- here, you can certainly reach out to the Fleet and Family Services. But if you're in Gulfport or in other Mississippi towns, there's other counseling available for you. So look in your communities and find out who can provide that counseling for you.

Any questions from anybody? Thanks you all, happy holidays. This was really fun to get to be with these kids. These kids not only have suffered the loss of the hurricane like everybody else here, but many of them have a parent deployed. A lot of the parents are coming home this weekend, but there's still one battalion that's deployed. And so I hope people around the Gulf Coast will reach out to these families, as well.

Q Mrs. Bush, what word of encouragement can you give to those children whose mom or dad might be deployed over the holidays?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I know they're so excited to see them. I read the letters that they wrote to their mothers and daddies. One letter said, "All I want for Christmas, Dad, is for you to be home with me." And so I hope people will keep our military families, these here on the Mississippi Coast but also the other military families around the United States, in their hearts and in their prayers during this holiday season.

Thanks, everyone. Good to see you all.

END 1:32 P.M. CST

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