President Bush yesterday urged Americans to help the neediest among them by volunteering to care for the sick, elderly and poor in a Christmas Day call for compassion. "Many of our fellow...

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WASHINGTON — President Bush yesterday urged Americans to help the neediest among them by volunteering to care for the sick, elderly and poor in a Christmas Day call for compassion.

“Many of our fellow Americans still suffer from the effects of illness or poverty, others fight cruel addictions, or cope with division in their families, or grieve the loss of a loved one,” he said in his weekly radio address.

“Christmastime reminds each of us that we have a duty to our fellow citizens, that we are called to love our neighbor just as we would like to be loved ourselves,” Bush added. “By volunteering our time and talents where they are needed most, we help heal the sick, comfort those who suffer, and bring hope to those who despair, one heart and one soul at a time.”

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On a day relaxing with his family at Camp David, Md., Bush also focused on military personnel.

He spent time with Marines who protect the presidential retreat during a dinnertime visit to their mess hall, according to White House spokesman Taylor Gross. And over the radio waves, Bush assured U.S. troops overseas that they are in the thoughts and prayers of their fellow Americans.

“In Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, these skilled and courageous Americans are fighting the enemies of freedom and protecting our country from danger,” Bush said. He called 10 members of the military around the world and in the United States on Friday.

“By bringing liberty to the oppressed, our troops are helping to win the war on terror, and they are defending the freedom and security of us all,” the president said. “They and their families are making many sacrifices for our nation, and for that, all Americans are deeply grateful.”

Bush will fly today to his home in Crawford, Texas, where he is scheduled to remain until Jan. 2.