Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Lighting of the Nation's Christmas Tree

December 18, 1964

Mr. Secretary of the Interior, Reverend Clergy, Vice President-elect Humphrey, ladies and gentlemen:

Once again, we come here to keep an old and cherished tradition--the lighting, here in Washington, of the Nation's Christmas Tree.

For all of us--of all ages--the lights of Christmas symbolize each year the happiness of this wonderful season.

But this year I believe that the lights of Christmas symbolize more than the happiness of the moment. Their brightness expresses the hopefulness of the times in which we live.

These are the most hopeful times in all the years since Christ was born in Bethlehem.

Our world is still troubled. Man is still afflicted by many worries and many woes.

Yet today--as never before--man has in his possession the capacities to end war arid preserve peace, to eradicate poverty and share abundance, to overcome the diseases that have afflicted the human race and permit all mankind to enjoy their promise in life on this earth.

At this Christmas season of 1964, we can think of broader and brighter horizons than any who have lived before these times. For there is rising in the sky of the age a new star--the star of peace.

By his inventions, man has made war unthinkable, now and forevermore. Man must, therefore, apply the same initiative, the same inventiveness, the same determined effort to make peace on earth eternal and meaningful for all mankind.

For nearly 200 years of our existence as a nation, America has stood for peace in the world. At this Christmas season--when the world commemorates the birth of the Prince of Peace--I want all men, everywhere, to know that the people of this great Nation have but one hope, one ambition toward other peoples: that is to live at peace with them and for them to live at peace with one another.

Since the first Christmas, man has moved slowly but steadily forward toward realizing the promise of peace on earth among men of good will. That movement has been possible because there has been brought into the affairs of man a more generous spirit toward his fellow man.

Let us pray at this season that in all we do as individuals and as a nation, we may be motivated by that spirit of generosity and compassion which Christ taught us so long ago.

Now it is my great privilege to do as Presidents have done for 40 years--to press this button and light the Christmas tree for all the Nation. As I do so, may I take this opportunity to express to the distinguished Representatives, the Ambassadors of foreign countries, to our official family, to each home and each family in our glorious Nation the wishes of our family--Mrs. Johnson, Lynda, Luci, and myself--for a happy holiday season and years of peace and success to Come.

Thank you and God bless all of you.

Note: The President spoke at 6:40 p.m. just before lighting the National Community Christmas Tree at the 11th annual Pageant of Peace ceremonies on the Ellipse near the White House. His opening words referred to Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall, the Most Reverend William J. McDonald, Rector, Catholic University of America, the Most Reverend Archbishop Iakovos, Primate, Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America, the Right Reverend William F. Creighton, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Washington, and Vice President-elect Hubert H. Humphrey.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Lighting of the Nation's Christmas Tree Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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