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Public Papers - 1989 - December

Remarks on Lighting the National Christmas Tree

1989-12-14

Well, my special thanks to Santa Claus -- that Santa mold will never be the same again. [Laughter] But to Loretta and -- first, to Willard Scott, and then to Loretta and Peggy, Tommy Tune, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, the great Air Force Band, and this marvelous team from Roanoke.

This is the Christmas that we've awaited for 50 years. And across Europe, East and West, 1989 is ending, bright with the prospect of a far better Christmastime than Europe has ever known -- a far better future than the world dared to imagine. And 50 winters have come and gone since darkness closed over Europe in 1939 -- 50 years. But last month, as Lech Walesa was coming to the White House, the wall in Berlin came tumbling down.

And another winter descended across Europe. Spring returned to Prague -- an unconquerable people, unquenchable dreams. And today -- there's a new sound at the wall. New sound rings out -- not the hammer and sickle but the hammer and the chisel. The glad sound you hear is not only the bells of Christmas but also the bells of freedom. And in this new season of hope, the triumph looms. It's just like the joy of Christmas: not a triumph for one particular country or one particular religion but a triumph for all humankind. The holidays are -- as we've seen here tonight -- a time of laughter and children and counting our blessings, a time when songs fill the air and hope fills our hearts for peace on Earth, good will to men.

And we've worked hard this year, all of us, all of you, to help build a better America, help someone else, help make this a kinder and gentler nation. But there remains a world of need all around us. In this holiday season, reach out to someone right where you live. Because from now on in America, ``There's no room at the inn'' -- that's simply not an acceptable answer. From now on in America, any definition of a successful life must include serving others. For Christmas is measured not by what's beneath your tree but by what's inside your heart. And so, this year, the spirit of the holidays is at long last matched by the spirit of the time. And it's the beginning of a new decade at the ending of an old century. And whatever your dream, whatever star you're following, the future is bright with possibility.

So, Barbara and I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. And now, with simultaneous tree lightings from coast to coast, in Charleston and Santa Cruz, let's show our Thousand Points of Light -- let's turn on the National Christmas Tree.

Note: The President spoke at 5:50 p.m. on the Ellipse during the annual Christmas Pageant of Peace. In his remarks, he referred to television weatherman Willard Scott, who hosted the pageant dressed as Santa Claus. The entertainers included Loretta and Peggy Lynn, Tommy Tune, Marilyn McCoo, Billy Davis, Jr., and the Roanoke College Children's Choir.

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