National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

Uploaded by whitehouse on 01.12.2011

>> 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.
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 --
-- 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.
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.
Come on, guys.
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 --
There you go.
That's a good-looking tree.
Thank you, everyone.