WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush called 10 U.S. troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf on Monday to thank them for their sacrifice and wish them a happy holiday even though they'll be away from their families and friends.
The president made his Christmas Eve phone calls from the Camp David presidential retreat in the Maryland mountains, where he is spending Christmas. He spoke with members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard.
White House press secretary Dana Perino said Bush knows that it's hard for the children of U.S. servicemen and women to understand why their fathers and mothers cannot be home for the holidays. Bush said that when the children are older, he thinks they'll understand and appreciate their parents' sacrifice, Perino said.
``He said he couldn't thank them enough for their contribution to their country, hopes they are in high spirits, and that they are serving a cause that is very noble,'' Perino said. ``He said, `I know that you miss your family.' ``
Bush will leave the day after Christmas for his Texas ranch and will return to Washington after the start of the new year. Among those joining the president at the wooded compound in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains are Mrs. Bush's mother, Jenna Welch; and the first couple's twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna.