Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Lighting of the Nation's Christmas Tree

December 15, 1966

Mr. Vice President and Mrs. Humphrey, Secretary Udall, Commissioner Tobriner, reverend clergy, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, distinguished platform guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Tonight, with prayerful hope for the future, we have come here to light the Nation's Christmas tree.

Exactly 175 years ago today America sent another light out into the world. That light--and that promise--was America's Bill of Rights.

Few documents in all the history of freedom have ever so illuminated the paths of men.

Today, the light of that great charter guides us yet.

I know, as you know, that we face an uncertain future. Grave problems threaten us all. As your President, I struggle with these problems every waking moment of every day.

Here at home, in our own land, more than 20 million Negroes still yearn for the rights and the dignity that the rest of us take for granted.

Abroad, half of the world's people struggle daily against hunger, disease, and poverty.

And tonight, even as we speak, American men are fighting in a strange land, a half a world away.

And yet, at this time of Christmas, there are signs of hope.

In the United States, we have made more progress in human rights in the past 6 years than we have made in all of the previous 100 years. And, if the goal of true equality is still far down the road, the barriers before that goal are falling every day.

Throughout the world old quarrels are being forgotten, and nation is joining nation in a common effort to try to improve the lot of man.

And finally, in Vietnam, the tide of battle has turned. No one can say just how long that war will last. But we can say that aggression has been blunted, and that peace, with honor, will surely follow.

The months ahead will not be easy ones. They will require great sacrifice, patience, understanding, and tolerance from each of us.

But let us here tonight dedicate this Christmas tree with hope and great confidence. And let us rededicate ourselves to the principles of our Bill of Rights "to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."

Note: The President spoke at 5:22 p.m. just before lighting the National Community Christmas Tree at the 13th annual Pageant of Peace ceremonies on the Ellipse near the White House. In his opening words he referred to Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey and Mrs. Humphrey, Stewart L. Udall, Secretary of the Interior, and Walter N. Tobriner, President of the Board of Commissioners, District of Columbia. The President's remarks were broadcast on radio and television.

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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