U.S. President George Bush has kicked-off
the official start of the holiday season in the nation's capital by
lighting America's national Christmas tree. VOA White House Correspondent
Scott Stearns has the story.
The U.S. Army band entertained hundreds of people who turned out for
the tree-lighting ceremony, bundled-up against a chill wind.
The larger national Christmas tree is ringed by smaller trees
representing each of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia and U.S.
territories abroad as part of what is called a Pageant of Peace.
President Bush says Christmas is a season of glad tidings to spend with
friends and family giving thanks for the bonds of love and affection and
the hope for peace around the world.
"At this time of year, we give thanks for the brave men and women in
uniform who are serving our nation. Many of those who have answered the call of duty will spend
this Christmas season far from home and separated from family. We honor
their sacrifice. We are proud of their service and that of their families.
We will keep them close to our hearts and in our prayers. And now as an
expression of our own hope for peace in this Christmas season, we will
light the national tree," he said.
The 83rd annual lighting is the traditional start of the holiday season
The president and Mrs. Bush host dozens of White House receptions each
year. This season's theme is Deck the Halls and Welcome to All.
White House guests pass giant nutcrackers more than three meters tall
as they enter along the East Colonnade. Upstairs, the White House
Christmas tree in the Blue Room stands more than six meters and is
decorated with crystals and ornaments of iridescent glass.
Music is always a big part of White House festivities with performers
representing the spectrum of American musical traditions from country and
western to jazz and bluegrass.