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Lighting the National Christmas Tree

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Photo: Chuck Kennedy/White House --President Obama gets help from mother-in-law Marian Robinson, daughters Sasha abd Malia, as well as First Lady Michelle Obama in pushing the button to light the National Christmas Tree, Washington DC, December 9, 2010

Photo: Chuck Kennedy/White House --President Obama gets help from mother-in-law Marian Robinson, daughters Sasha abd Malia, as well as First Lady Michelle Obama in pushing the button to light the National Christmas Tree, Washington DC, December 9, 2010

For the 88th time, the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony took place in Washington, DC last night.  The first family had t he honor of pushing the button that lit up a 40-foot Colorado blue spruce.

Photo: Lawrence Jackson/White House --National Christmas Tree shines bright with lights in Washington DC, December 9, 2010

Photo: Lawrence Jackson/White House --National Christmas Tree shines bright with lights in Washington DC, December 9, 2010

Photo: Pete Souza/White House --Blues master BB King performed , "Merry Christmas Baby," at the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in Washington, DC, December 9, 2010

Photo: Pete Souza/White House --Blues master BB King performed , "Merry Christmas Baby," at the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in Washington, DC, December 9, 2010

 The President commented on the history and the resilience of the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony:

President Obama:

Often, the ceremony itself has reflected the pain and sacrifice of the times. There were years during the Second World War when no lights were hung, in order to save electricity. In the days following Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill joined President Roosevelt to wish our nation a Happy Christmas even in such perilous days.

But without fail, each year, we have gathered here. Each year we’ve come together to celebrate a story that has endured for two millennia. It’s a story that’s dear to Michelle and me as Christians, but it’s a message that’s universal: A child was born far from home to spread a simple message of love and redemption to every human being around the world.

It’s a message that says no matter who we are or where we are from, no matter the pain we endure or the wrongs we face, we are called to love one another as brothers and as sisters.

And so during a time in which we try our hardest to live with a spirit of charity and goodwill, we remember our brothers and sisters who have lost a job or are struggling to make ends meet. We pray for the men and women in uniform serving in Afghanistan and Iraq and in faraway places who can’t be home this holiday season. And we thank their families, who will mark this Christmas with an empty seat at the dinner table.

On behalf of Malia, Sasha, Michelle, Marian — who’s our grandmother-in-chief — (laughter) -– and Bo — don’t forget Bo — (applause) — I wish all of you a merry Christmas and a blessed holiday season.

The full text of President Obama’s remarks on the White House website here.

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