National Christmas Tree
Pageant of Peace Tree Lighting
The White House
December 5, 2002
5:57 P.M. EST
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. (Applause.) I want to thank
all the entertainers for making the night such a special evening. Thank you
all for coming. (Applause.) 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. (Applause.)
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
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. (Applause.)
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. (Applause.)