National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

>>Secretary Salazar:
Thank you very much,
Neal Muholland, and thank you to all of the
members of the National Parks Foundation for your
outstanding work and for making this day possible. Thank you for the work you do
to protect America’s natural heritage and its culture. On behalf of the Department of
the Interior and the National Parks Service and my colleagues
on President Obama’s cabinet, we are honored that you are
all here with us tonight to celebrate this great
American holiday tradition. Seventy years ago this month,
just weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, in
those dark days, President Franklin Roosevelt and
Prime Minister Winston Churchill joined here together in the
White House to light the national Christmas tree. During those dark days,
President Roosevelt called on the nation to view the lighting
of the tree as a reminder that we set our faith in human love
and in God’s care for us. Tonight let this tree
remind us that in all times, the light of love and good will
shines brightly across America and around the world. This occasion is also
special for all of us, because we are gathered
here in Presidents Park, one of the 397 national parks
under the care of the service, and here we light our
nation’s spirit of peace, hope and joy for the holidays. Now on this remarkable night
in these remarkable times, it is with great honor that I
introduce someone who never rests, someone who never tires,
someone who never quits, someone who is a champion for
American peace and prosperity for all of its citizens, the
44th President of the the United States of America, Barack Obama! (cheers and applause) ♪♪ (music playing) ♪♪ 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. The First Lady:
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.

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