HONOLULU, Hawaii - President-elect Barack Obama offered appreciation to the U.S. military yesterday in a recorded message set to air today and invoked George Washington's daring Christmas crossing of the Delaware River as inspiration to get through these tough times.

Obama and his wife, Michelle, made an early-morning trek to Marine Corps Base Hawaii, just northeast of Honolulu, just as they had the previous three days. After about an hour inside, Obama walked over to greet about 60 people waiting for him.

He shook hands while onlookers took pictures with their cell phones and cameras.

"You guys got your Christmas list?" Obama asked one person in the makeshift rope line.

Earlier in the day, his aides released the recorded message of appreciation to the military "serving their second, third or even fourth tour of duty."

"This holiday season, their families celebrate with a joy that is muted knowing that a loved one is absent, and sometimes in danger," Obama said in the message.

He noted the struggling economy and said Washington and his army had "faced impossible odds" as they fought on Dec. 25, 1776, the day they surprised Hessian forces in Trenton and won victories that gave momentum and hope to American efforts at independence.

In his own radio address, President Bush on Tuesday also highlighted Washington's crossing of the Delaware.