Full Text December 1, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

The holiday theme this year is “Shine, Give, Share.” You’re invited to see the Christmas decorations, go behind-the-scenes as the White House prepares for the season, and share a message of thanks with the troops.

Holidays at the White House
The Obama Family after the lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C., White House Photo, Pete Souza, 12/1/11

It’s on: The new National Christmas Tree lights up

Source: AP, 12-1-11

The new National Christmas Tree is settling into its new digs just south of the White House.

President Barack Obama and his family officially marked the start of the Christmas season by lighting the tree in a ceremony just after dark Thursday.

The 26-foot Colorado blue spruce was planted in March on the Ellipse, a park that lies between the White House and the National Mall. Strong winds in February toppled the previous tree, which stood in the park since 1978….READ MORE

The Obama Family Starts New Tradition at National Tree Lighting Ceremony

Source: WH, 12-2-11

Last night President Obama was joined by First Lady Michelle Obama, their daughters Malia and Sasha and  “Grandmother in Chief” Marian Robinson to light a brand new National Christmas Tree in the President’s Park outside the White House. This year’s tree replaces one that was part of the national tradition for 30 years , until it was lost in a storm earlier this year.

In his remarks, the President wished Americans “the merriest of Christmases” and reminded everyone to keep the central message of the holiday season in their hearts:

In this season of hope, let’s help those who need it most –- the homeless, the hungry, the sick and shut in. In this season of plenty, let’s reach out to those who struggle to find work or provide for their families. In this season of generosity, let’s give thanks and honor to our troops and our veterans, and their families who’ve sacrificed so much for us. And let’s welcome all those who are happily coming home.

And this holiday season, let us reaffirm our commitment to each other, as family members, as neighbors, as Americans, regardless of our color or creed or faith.  Let us remember that we are one, and we are a family.

Continuing another tradition, the First Lady read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to the crowd before the lighting ceremony began, and this year she was joined by Kermit the Frog.

 

View photos from the event and watch the President’s remarks and the First Lady’s reading below.

The Obama Family Lights the National Christmas TreePresident Barack Obama, with mother-in-law Marian Robinson, daughters Malia and Sasha, and First Lady Michelle Obama, react after pushing the button to light the National Christmas Tree during a ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The National Christmas Tree 2011The National Christmas Tree is illuminated during the lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington D.C., Dec. 1, 2011. The White House is visible in the background. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

 

First Lady Michelle Obama and Kermit the Frog read "Twas the Night Before Christmas"First Lady Michelle Obama and Kermit the Frog read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to a group of children during the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, Dec. 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Watch the Video

Remarks by the President at Lighting of the National Christmas Tree

The Ellipse

Source: WH, 12-1-11
5:31 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s nice having your own band.  Please have a seat, everyone.  Merry Christmas!  Merry Christmas!

Thank you, Secretary Salazar, for that introduction and for your hard work to preserve and protect our land and our water and our wildlife.  I also want to thank Minister Rogers for the beautiful invocation, as well as Neil Mulholland and everyone at the National Park Foundation and the National Park Service who helped put this outstanding event together.  I’d like to thank Carson Daly and Big Time Rush, and all of tonight’s performers for joining us to kick off the holiday season here at the White House.

For 89 years, Presidents and Americans have come together to light the National Christmas Tree.  And this year is a special one.  This year, we have a brand new tree.  The last one stood here for more than 30 years — until we lost it in a storm earlier this year.  But we all know that this tradition is much larger than any single tree.  And tonight, once again, we gather here not simply to light some decorations, but to honor a story that lights the world.

More than 2,000 years ago, a child was born to two faithful travelers who could find rest only in a stable, among the cattle and the sheep.  But this was not just any child.  Christ’s birth made the angels rejoice and attracted shepherds and kings from afar.  He was a manifestation of God’s love for us.  And He grew up to become a leader with a servant’s heart who taught us a message as simple as it is powerful:  that we should love God, and love our neighbor as ourselves.

That teaching has come to encircle the globe.  It has endured for generations.  And today, it lies at the heart of my Christian faith and that of millions of Americans.  No matter who we are, or where we come from, or how we worship, it’s a message that can unite all of us on this holiday season.

So long as the gifts and the parties are happening, it’s important for us to keep in mind the central message of this season, and keep Christ’s words not only in our thoughts, but also in our deeds.  In this season of hope, let’s help those who need it most –- the homeless, the hungry, the sick and shut in.  In this season of plenty, let’s reach out to those who struggle to find work or provide for their families.  In this season of generosity, let’s give thanks and honor to our troops and our veterans, and their families who’ve sacrificed so much for us.  And let’s welcome all those who are happily coming home.  (Applause.)

And this holiday season, let us reaffirm our commitment
to each other, as family members, as neighbors, as Americans, regardless of our color or creed or faith.  Let us remember that we are one, and we are a family.

So on behalf of Malia and Sasha and Michelle and our grandmother-in-chief, Marian — (laughter) — I wish you all the happiest holiday season, the merriest of Christmases.  God bless you all, and may God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

And with that, I’m going to invite the entire Obama clan up here to light the Christmas tree.  I need some help, and there’s a lot of technical aspects to this.  (Laughter.)  Come on, guys.  (Applause.)  All right.

Okay, we’re going to start counting down here.  We’ve got the switch right here.

MRS. OBAMA:  All right, come on.

THE PRESIDENT:  Everybody ready?  And this is the new tree.  I know it’s not quite as big as the old tree, but it’s going to take time to grow.  But we’re going to fill it up with some  spirit and start a new tradition right now.

All right, everybody ready?  We’re going to start counting down.  Five, four, three, two, one — (applause.)  There you go.  That’s a good-looking tree.  Thank you, everyone.

END 5:35 P.M. EST

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