WASHINGTON (AP) - President-elect Barack Obama is asking the country to look to George Washington's improbable crossing on the Delaware River on Christmas Day as inspiration to get through current tough times.
Obama said in a holiday message that Washington and his army "faced impossible odds" as they fought against the British on Dec. 25, 1776, the day they surprised Hessian forces and won victories that gave new momentum and hope to American Independence.
Obama used that story to say that "hope endures and that a new birth of peace is always possible"-even as many Americans are serving overseas and others have lost their jobs while the economy sinks deeper into the doldrums. Obama released his remarks Wednesday, when the government reported that new claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week as layoffs spread.
The Labor Department said earlier this month that employers cut a net total of 533,000 jobs in November, sending the unemployment rate to 6.7 percent, the highest in 15 years.
"We know that millions of Americans don't have a job. Many more are struggling to pay the bills or stay in their homes. From students to seniors, the future seems uncertain," Obama said in his weekly radio remarks, which are scheduled to be broadcast Saturday morning.
The president-elect also offered support to Americans serving far away from loved ones during the holidays.
"This holiday season, their families celebrate with a joy that is muted, knowing that a loved one is absent, and sometimes in danger. In towns and cities across America, there is an empty seat at the dinner table," Obama said.
Referring to Washington's journey, he said "we have crossed many rivers as a people," and he said Americans can point their country in a new direction.
"Now, we must all do our part to serve one another; to seek new ideas and new innovation; and to start a new chapter for our great country," he said. "That is the spirit that will guide my administration in the new year."
Obama is currently vacationing in Hawaii, where he attended a memorial service for his grandmother Tuesday.
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