George W. Bush photo

Remarks on Lighting the National Christmas Tree

December 05, 2002

Thank you very much. With the lighting of the National Christmas Tree, we observe one of the great traditions of our Nation's Capital. And throughout the Christmas season, we recall that God's love is found in humble places, and God's peace is offered to all of us. Laura and I are pleased to be with you at this Christmas Pageant of Peace, and we thank you all for coming as well.

I want to thank Barbara for hosting this event. I want to thank all the entertainers for making the night such a special evening. Thank you all for coming. I want to thank Peter and the board of directors and the production team for organizing this fine event. I appreciate Santa coming. [Laughter] Looks like he needs a belt for Christmas. [Laughter] Finally, I want to thank all the good people of the National Park Service. The National Christmas Tree is a living tree, and the Park Service looks after it every single day of the year.

For nearly 80 years, in times of calm and in times of challenge, Americans have gathered for this ceremony. The simple story we remember during this season speaks to every generation. It is the story of a quiet birth in a little town on the margins of an indifferent empire, yet that single event set the direction of history and still changes millions of lives. For over two millennia, Christmas has carried the message that God is with us, and because He's with us, we can always live in hope.

In this season, we celebrate with our families—and deeply miss family members no longer with us. Thousands of families in our Nation are still grieving over the terrible losses that came to them last year on September the 11th. We pray for their comfort. We pray for the comfort for everyone who has lost a life this year.

Our entire Nation is also thinking at this time of year of the men and women in the military, many of whom will spend this Christmas at posts far from home. They stand between Americans and grave danger. They serve in the cause of peace and freedom. They wear the uniform proudly, and we are proud of them.

Laura and I wish every American family the blessings of this season, happy holidays, and a merry Christmas. And now we have the honor of lighting the National Christmas Tree. And joining us we've got two new friends, Samara Banks and Ben Schneller, to help us light this tree.

Now, if everybody—you all step up here. [Laughter] Get ready. Please join us in the countdown: Five, four, three, two, one.

NOTE: The President spoke at 5:57 p.m. on the Ellipse during the annual Christmas Pageant of Peace. In his remarks, he referred to actress Barbara Eden, hostess, and Peter F. Nostrand, chairman, Christmas Pageant of Peace; entertainer Roy Clark, who played Santa Claus; and Samara Banks and Ben Schneller, children who assisted the President in lighting the National Christmas Tree. The Office of the Press Secretary also released a Spanish language transcript of these remarks.

George W. Bush, Remarks on Lighting the National Christmas Tree Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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