Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Lighting of the Nation's Christmas Tree

December 16, 1968

Cardinal O'Boyle, Secretary Udall, Mr. Carr, Mr. Dalton, Senator Moss, Mayor Washington, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

For the sixth--and last--time, I have come to light this Christmas tree in the Nation's Capital.

My prayer now, as it has been in each of these other Decembers, is for peace and reconciliation abroad, justice and tranquillity at home.

This prayer is not easily answered in the world in which we live. During the past 5 years, we have had to act with other nations to preserve the possibility of freedom for those threatened by totalitarian power-to preserve the dream in Asia and Latin America and elsewhere of how men might work, in cooperation with their neighbors, to lift the great burdens of poverty, ignorance, hunger, and disease.

Our next President will also face many difficult challenges in international affairs. He deserves the support of all of us in helping him to meet those challenges. I hope, and I believe, that what America has done in the past few years will strengthen his ability to meet his responsibilities to America and to the world.

For, here at home, too, we have had to preserve a dream; to work day and night to close the gap between promise and reality, so that all would have equal opportunity to fulfill the talents that God granted them; and to do so in an environment which protected the rights of all, including the right to expect that the law will be obeyed by everyone among us.

We cannot say that we have triumphed in this endeavor. But we have begun--at long last.

Problems remain for the new President and the new administration. But I sense that there is coming now in our land an understanding of how much can be done if we will only, all of us, work together, and how much can be lost if men look to violence and confrontation as the answer to frustration and injustice.

At this moment of Christmas, we Americans join our prayers with all our human brothers, in a spirit of hope. We pray for an early and durable settlement of the war that has called many brave young men to duty far from our shores and who cannot be in their homes this Christmas. In the hour of the Prince of Peace, we pray for them, for ourselves, and for all our fellows on this earth.

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a full New Year of both peace and happiness.

Note: The President spoke at 5:48 p.m. at the 15th annual Pageant of Peace ceremonies on the Ellipse near the White House, just before lighting the National Community Christmas Tree---a 74-foot Engelmann spruce from the Uinta National Forest in Utah. In his opening words he referred to His Eminence Patrick Cardinal O'Boyle, Archbishop of Washington, Stewart L. Udall, Secretary of the Interior, Edward R. Cart, president of the Christmas Pageant of Peace, John M. Dalton, chairman of the Pageant, Senator Frank E. Moss of Utah, and Walter E. Washington, Commissioner of the District of Columbia. The President's remarks were broadcast over nationwide radio and television.

At the same time, as announced by White House Press Secretary George E. Christian (4 Weekly Comp. Pres. Does., p. 1720), the President by radio control lighted another Christmas tree in the remote Eskimo village of Nulato on Hooper Bay of the Bering Sea in Alaska. Nulato, the announcement said, is the first of 59 Alaskan villages which are to receive electric service under a project sponsored by the Rural Electrification Administration, the Office of Economic Opportunity, the Labor Department, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the State of Alaska, and the villages themselves.

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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