Presidential Christmas Messages – Bill Clinton

Presidential Christmas Messages

Since 1870, the United States has officially celebrated Christmas as a nation and as a result has declared as a nation the belief in the coming of the Savior to earth. Just as the official Thanksgiving proclamations of the Presidents declare that our nation depends upon the grace and mercy of the LORD God to exist, the celebration of Christmas declares the nation’s faith in the manifestation of that grace and mercy in the birth of the Messiah.

Bill Clinton

The Clinton Family poses for a Holiday Portrait in the Blue Room, December 23, 1999. (Photographer: Sharon Farmer/Photo: William J. Clinton Presidential Library Facebook)
The Clinton Family poses for a Holiday Portrait in the Blue Room, December 23, 1999. (Photographer: Sharon Farmer/Photo: William J. Clinton Presidential Library Facebook)

Remarks on Lighting the National Christmas Tree
December 9, 1993 (Presidents Remarks at 47:30 minute mark)


Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to begin my remarks by asking that we recognize the years of devotion that Joe Riley has given to this Pageant of Peace. Let’s give him a big hand. [Applause]

This has been a wonderful night for Hillary and for Chelsea and for me. I thank Sandy Duncan for doing such a wonderful job in her tennis shoes; I think she looked sort of graceful limping out there. The DC Choral Kaleidoscope was wonderful. And I think Willard Scott is a perfect Santa Claus. You know, he will take any excuse to wear hair. [Laughter] But he looked beautiful. I’m especially glad to see my friends Charley Pride and Phil Driscoll. I thank them for being here. I thought they were terrific, as was the Air Force Band that I’m proud of as the President very, very much. Thank you all so much for what you’ve done.

In this Pageant of Peace we come together in the spirit of our better selves, wishing that somehow, some way, we could feel the way we feel tonight and in this Christmas season, every day, all year long. We are joined by simple and universal convictions: a shared faith, a shared joy, a shared commitment now to follow the directions of our faith, to love our neighbors as ourselves, to be grateful for what we have, to wish that others had it, and to take some time to give more of ourselves to others.

I ask tonight that all of us, each in our own way, express our gratitude to the men and women of our Armed Forces who are overseas in this Christmas season, to all those who serve us here in the United States, to our families and friends, and to all those to whom we could give a little something extra.

But most of all, because of all the difficulties we have had in the United States in these last couple of years, with violence in our own land affecting not only adults but more and more of our children, I ask tonight, at this Pageant of Peace, that we pray in this Christmas season that we be given the wisdom and the courage, the heart, the renewed sense of common humanity, to do what we can to bring more peace to the streets, the homes, and the hearts of our own people and especially our children. That is something that would be perfectly consistent with the faith and the life we celebrate tonight, something we could take out of this Christmas season that would be the greatest gift we could ever give to ourselves, to our children, and to our beloved land.

Thank you. God bless you all. And now I’d like to ask my family to come up and help me to light the Christmas tree

Message on the Observance of Christmas
December 22, 1993

Warmest greetings to all who are celebrating Christmas in this season of hope.

Each year at this time, we gather together with our loved ones. We teach our children to believe that, with faith and hard work, their dreams can come true. We reach out to each other in caring and fellowship. We look to the future with hope and always with the most earnest of mankind’s prayers—the prayer for peace. Thankfully, at this Christmastime, we can joyously celebrate the results of our prayers.

Around the world, people are embracing the promise of the post-Cold War era, throwing off the shackles of tyranny and committing themselves to the ideals of democracy. Old enemies who met for centuries on the battlefield are now meeting on common ground to discuss peace. In our own country, many citizens are rededicating themselves to improving their communities and to ending the crime and violence that still threaten us. This has indeed been a year worthy of the Prince of Peace.

I have always believed that the Christmas spirit of giving and caring joins children and parents across the country and around the world. This year, let us listen to the dreams of our children and gain strength from their idealism. On this holiday, let us reach out to the people around us and work for a world at peace.

Hillary joins me in extending best wishes to all for a very merry Christmas.

BILL CLINTON

Christmas Greeting to the Nation
December 25, 1993

The President. On this Christmas Day all over our Nation, Americans are gathering in celebration of faith and family and tradition.

Hillary Clinton. This season has a special magic. It may be cold outside, but we all feel an inner warmth. We are renewed with every kindness we give and receive. The celebration is as big as the world, and yet, it is as private as every Christmas wish that a child of any age has ever dreamed.

The President. So on this day, our greatest gift is the one within, the emergence and the sharing of our better selves. Our Christmas prayer is that each of us be given the strength to bring peace and good will to every community and to every American, especially to every child. Peace for them is our greatest wish.

We are especially grateful to the men and women of our Armed Forces who are overseas this holiday away from their own families, preserving the freedoms that the rest of us cherish. We wish all Americans a joyous and blessed holiday.

Merry Christmas.

Hillary Clinton. And a happy New Year.

The President’s Radio Address
December 25, 1993

Good morning. On this Christmas morning, I won’t keep you very long because I know many of you may still have presents under your trees waiting to be opened. But I do want to send my warmest Christmas greetings to all Americans.

For Hillary, Chelsea, and me, this is our first Christmas in Washington. We’ve taken great joy in decorating the White House with trees and ornaments and decorating our own Christmas tree upstairs in the residence. We’ve taken even greater joy in seeing our fellow Americans share in the beauty and the history of their house, the people’s house, here in our Nation’s Capital, as tens of thousands have come through to see the White House at Christmastime.

Like so many of you, we’ve been joined by relatives and friends. We’ve been reminded of all we have to be thankful for. For this holiday season is a time to remember what we value and what gives our lives meaning. Today Christians celebrate God’s love for humanity made real in the birth of Christ in a manger almost 2,000 years ago. The humble circumstances of His birth, the example of His life, the power of His teachings inspire us to love and to care for our fellow men and women.

On this day we should be especially grateful that here in America we all have the freedom to worship God in our own way, for our faith is purest when it is the offering of a free and joyous spirit. We are a nation of many faiths and beliefs, united in a sense of mutual respect, shared values, and common purpose. Each of our faiths teaches that none of us can live alone, for we all belong to something larger than ourselves. Each teaches that we can see the image of God reflected in our fellow men and women, whatever their creed or color. Each teaches that our responsibilities to God are reflected in our responsibilities to each other. “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” the Rabbi Hillel asked. “But if I am only for myself, who am I?”

Part of the miracle of this season is that each of us can hear what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.” As we gather with our families, our friends; as we hear stories of our parents and grandparents; as we delight in the laughter of our own children and grandchildren, we’re reminded again that we are part of a great sea of humanity including those who came before us and those who will live long afterward. That sense of connection is part of the joy of this season, part of the reason why, no matter how cold it gets, our hearts remain warm.

As we rejoice in the best of what life can be, we ask ourselves how we can act in the spirit of the season not just on this day but on every day. As we look into the eyes of our children filled with life and laughter and promise, we’re reminded of our most sacred obligation: nurturing the next generation. Every father and mother must do whatever we can to help our children live decent and responsible lives so they can be the people God intended them to be. And as the National Conference of Catholic Bishops declared in a pastoral letter, “No government can love a child, no policy can substitute for a family’s care. The undeniable fact is that our children’s future is shaped both by the values of their parents and the policies of our Nation.” So we must act as parents, and we must also act as citizens.

On this day of all days, we are reminded of our obligations to every child, not just our own. As long as there are children whose parents can’t afford to take them to the doctor, as long as there are young people who live in fear that they will die before their time from gang violence and random gunfire, then each of us is diminished. If each of us could find the wisdom, the courage, and the commitment to help bring peace to all our own streets and peace of mind to our own families here in America, we could give a wonderful gift to ourselves, to our children, and our beloved country.

For most of us, this is a day of well-earned rest. But it’s also a day when we remember that along with family and community, work gives purpose and structure to our lives. In this country, everyone who is able to work should be able to find work. And everyone who works should be able to support a family. When we restore dignity and security of work for all people, we’ll go a long way toward restoring the fabric of life in all our communities. I’m glad that more Americans are working today than there were last year, but I know we’ve got a long way to go.

I also want to say a special word of thanks to all those who are working today who may wish they weren’t working on this day, from those who care for the sick in our hospitals to those who patrol the streets of our communities. Most of all, we honor the service men and women who stand sentry for our freedom every day of the year. Because of their vigilance on this Christmas Day, our Nation is at peace. And although they may be thousands of miles away, they are close to us today.

To all those who hear me now, wherever this Christmas morning finds you, I wish you the best of holiday seasons, and may God bless you and your family.

White House Christmas card 1994
White House Christmas card 1994

Remarks on Lighting the National Christmas Tree
December 7, 1994 (Presidents remarks at 51:30 minute mark)


Thank you, John Betchkal, Mrs. Betchkal, Reverend Leon. I want to thank especially our wonderful entertainers tonight: Willard Scott, who would make anybody believe in Santa Claus; Trisha Yearwood, it’s wonderful to see you again; Richard Leech, you are terrific. If I had a voice like you, I would have stayed out of politics. [Laughter] And I want to say a special word of thanks and congratulations to the magnificent Aretha Franklin who was recently honored at the Kennedy Center Honors. We are glad to see all of you here tonight. Thank you. We congratulate the Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys for the wonderful job that they did.

Let me say that Hillary and Chelsea and I are delighted to be back here for our second Pageant of Peace. I don’t know how many of you were here last year, but it was a lot colder. And I still feel in the Christmas spirit and more comfortable doing so. I’m glad to be here tonight, and I appreciate this wonderful weather.

This year, we have a lot to be grateful for. This is the first Christmas since the beginning of the cold war when our parents can tuck all of their children into bed on Christmas Eve knowing that there are no Russian missiles with nuclear warheads pointed at them.

In holy Bethlehem and throughout the Middle East, ancient enemies are taking giant steps toward peace and reconciliation. Peace is making progress in Northern Ireland, in South Africa, in Haiti, and Eastern and Central Europe, where people are making courageous steps to escape the shackles that have bound them.

Here at home, I appreciate what Willard Scott said about prosperity coming back. And we do have the strongest economy we’ve had in many years, but let us never forget that many of our people are living in poverty and others are working hard in insecurity, and that as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, let us not forget His lesson that one day we will be asked whether we lived out His love in ways that treated all of our brothers and sisters as we would have treated Him, even the least of them. He taught us all to seek peace and to treat all people with love.

In this holiday season as we gather our families and often go back to the places where we grew up, this is a time to rededicate ourselves to the things which matter most, to our responsibilities, to our families, our communities, and our country.

With all of our challenges in this holiday season, we can take great comfort in knowing that when we come together and seek God’s help, we can meet any challenge. At this holiday season also, my fellow Americans, let us extend our special gratitude and prayers for the men and women of our Armed Forces who protect the peace and stand sentry for our freedom. Many of them are very, very far from their families and friends; they must be close to our hearts.

Finally let me say, this wonderful evergreen Christmas tree, the “Tannenbaum” about which Aretha Franklin sang, is a symbol of the enduring values of our lives. As we light it, let it rekindle in our hearts faith and hope and love for one another.

And now I wish God’s blessings on you all at this special season, and I’d like to ask Hillary and Chelsea to join me as we light the Christmas tree.

Message on the Observance of Christmas
December 15, 1994

Warm greetings to Americans everywhere during this joyous Christmas season.

The timeless story of a baby born in a manger amid humble surroundings is the fulfillment of a promise, an affirmation of faith. Jesus’ birth demonstrates the infinite love of God. We celebrate the gift of His life, and Christmas softens our hearts and rekindles in us a sincere desire to reach out to others in peace and friendship.

As we rejoice in the miracle of Christmas, we reflect on the Holy Family and draw strength from their example of faith. We are reminded that the bonds between parent and child, between husband and wife, and between neighbor and stranger are opportunities to answer Jesus’ call to love one another, and we are reminded that one day we will be asked whether we lived out His love in ways that treated all of our brothers and sisters—even the least of them—as we would have treated Him.

In holy Bethlehem and throughout the Middle East, ancient enemies are putting aside their differences and coming together in goodwill. Recognizing that there is still much work to be done, let us build on this success and nurture love and caring in our world, in our neighborhoods, and in our homes. With this commitment, we can all share in the fulfillment of the Christmas promise.

Hillary joins me in wishing you joy and peace this Christmas.

BILL CLINTON

The President’s Radio Address
December 24, 1994

Good morning; Merry Christmas; Season’s Greetings. All across our country, families are gathering to share this joyous time and to give thanks for the good things in our lives.

This holiday season, one of the greatest blessings of all is that our Nation is at peace, freedom is on the march, and the world is a safer place than it was a year ago. I’m proud of our efforts to turn conflict into cooperation, to transform fear into security, to replace hatred with hope. In a world that is ever more bound together, those efforts have been good for millions of people around the globe, and very good for America.

Perhaps most important of all, for the first time since the dawn of the nuclear age, for the first time in nearly half a century, parents can put their children to bed at this Christmas season knowing that nuclear weapons from the former Soviet Union are no longer pointed at those children. Just this month, we signed the START I agreement with Russia that guarantees the elimination of thousands of missiles from the former Soviet arsenal and clears the way for further reduction. And Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine, three republics of the former Soviet Union, are now fulfilling their commitments to give up every one of the weapons they inherited after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Finally, in North Korea, our firm diplomacy secured an agreement that requires that country first to freeze and then to dismantle its nuclear program, all under international inspections.

On a separate note, let me say that our thoughts, Hillary’s and mine, and I know all of America’s, are with the family of Chief Warrant Officer Hilemon, who was killed last week in a tragic incident in North Korea. We are pleased that his remains have been returned to his family, and we are hopeful that his crewmate, Chief Warrant Officer Hall, will soon be back with his family.

Our steady diplomacy has helped to achieve real progress on many fronts. But when necessary, our troops have also proved themselves ready to defend our national interests, to back up our commitments, and to promote peace and security. For 3 years, a brutal military regime terrorized the Haitian people and caused instability in our hemisphere. It wasn’t until the regime knew our troops were on their way that finally they agreed to step down peacefully and to return power to the democratically elected government. Now, under President Aristide, Haiti is free, democratic, and more secure. Its people have a chance to rebuild their nation. Our hemisphere is more democratic and more stable, and that’s good for America.

When Iraq again threatened the stability of the Persian Gulf, I ordered our troops, ships, and planes to the region to stop a would-be aggressor in his tracks. In this vital part of the world, too, we have protected the peace.

I know all Americans share my pride in the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who are standing watch for freedom and security today and in this holiday season in Haiti and the Persian Gulf and, indeed, all around the world. I wish all our troops could come home for the holidays, but those who aren’t are doing important work for our Nation. And as you gather in your homes this week, I hope you’ll join me in a prayer for their well-being and the health and happiness of their families.

All around the world, our efforts to build peace have contributed to progress in solving what once seemed to be unsolvable problems. In South Africa, the long night of apartheid has given way to a new day of freedom. In Ireland, after centuries of struggle, a lasting settlement between Catholics and Protestants is finally within reach. And in the Holy Land, so close to the hearts of many of us at this time of year, Israelis and Arabs are turning the page on the past and embracing a future of peace.

Of course, there are still too many people, from Bosnia to the refugee camps outside Rwanda, who are plagued by violence and cruelty and hatred. And we must continue our efforts to help them find peace. But we should remember how many people around the world are moving toward freedom and how fortunate we are here in America to have been able to help them to move toward freedom. To them, America is a beacon of hope. They admire our values and our strength. They see in us a nation that has been graced by peace and prosperity. They look to us for leadership and for eternal renewed energy and progress.

For Hillary and for myself, I want to wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy holiday.

God bless you all, and God bless America.

Christmas Greeting to the Nation
December 24, 1994

The President. On this special day, we send our best wishes to you and your family, and especially to the families of our service men and women who are so many miles away from home this Christmas, doing America’s work overseas, keeping the peace in the Persian Gulf, and bringing freedom and democracy to Haiti. We salute them as they make the world a safer place for all of us, for our children and for future generations.

Hillary Clinton. And we thank all of you who are giving your time today serving others, the police and fire and medical staffs on duty and all the mothers and fathers, friends and volunteers who are caring for loved ones and neighbors nearby. Thank you all for spreading good will and for showing what the true spirit of Christmas is all about.

The President. As 1994 comes to a close, we wish everyone the joy and peace of this blessed season and good health and happiness throughout the coming year. Enjoy the holiday.

Hillary Clinton. And have a Merry Christmas.

The President. And a Happy New Year.

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 22: US President Bill Clinton (3rd L) reads Clement Clarke Moore's "T'was the Night Before Christmas" to a group of school children in the State Dining Room at the White House 22 December. Looking on at right are First Lady Hillary Clinton (2nd R) and Santa Claus (R). (Photo credit should read PAM PRICE/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 22: US President Bill Clinton (3rd L) reads Clement Clarke Moore’s “T’was the Night Before Christmas” to a group of school children in the State Dining Room at the White House 22 December. Looking on at right are First Lady Hillary Clinton (2nd R) and Santa Claus (R). (Photo credit should read PAM PRICE/AFP/Getty Images)

Remarks on Lighting the City Christmas Tree in Belfast
November 30, 1995

Thank you very much. To the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, let me begin by saying to all of you, Hillary and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making us feel so very, very welcome in Belfast and Northern Ireland. We thank you, Lord Mayor, for your cooperation and your help in making this trip so successful, and we trust that, for all of you, we haven’t inconvenienced you too much. But this has been a wonderful way for us to begin the Christmas holidays.

Let me also say I understood just what an honor it was to be able to turn on this Christmas tree when I realized the competition. [Laughter] Now, to become President of the United States you have to undertake some considerable competition. But I have never confronted challengers with the name recognition, the understanding of the media, and the ability in the martial arts of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

To all of you whose support enabled me to join you tonight and turn the Christmas tree on, I give you my heartfelt thanks. I know here in Belfast you’ve been lighting the Christmas tree for more than 20 years. But this year must be especially joyous to you, for you are entering your second Christmas of peace.

As I look down these beautiful streets, I think how wonderful it will be for people to do their holiday shopping without worry of searches or bombs, to visit loved ones on the other side of the border without the burden f checkpoints or roadblocks, to enjoy these magnificent Christmas lights without any fear of violence. Peace has brought real change to your lives.

Across the ocean, the American people are rejoicing with you. We are joined to you by strong ties of community and commerce and culture. Over the years, men and women of both traditions have flourished in our country and helped America to flourish.

And today, of course, we are forging new and special bonds. Belfast’s sister city in the United States, Nashville, Tennessee, was proud to send this Christmas tree to friends across the Atlantic. I want to thank the most prominent present resident of Nashville, Tennessee, Vice President Al Gore, the Mayor, Phil Bredesen, and the United States Air Force for getting this big tree all the way across the Atlantic to be here with you tonight.

In this 50th anniversary year of the end of World War II, many Americans still remember the warmth the people of Northern Ireland showed them when the Army was stationed here under General Eisenhower. The people of Belfast named General Eisenhower an honorary burgess of the city. He viewed that honor, and I quote, “as a token of our common purpose to work together for a better world.” That mission endures today. We remain Americans, and as people of Northern Ireland, partners for security, partners for prosperity, and most important, partners for peace.

Two years ago, at this very spot, tens of thousands of you took part in a day for peace, as a response to some of the worst violence Northern Ireland had known in recent years. The two morning papers, representing both traditions, sponsored a telephone poll for peace that generated almost 160,000 calls. In the United States, for my fellow Americans who are here, that would be the equivalent to 25 million calls.

The response left no doubt that all across Northern Ireland the desire for peace was becoming a demand. I am honored to announce today that those same two newspapers, the Newsletter and the Irish News, have established the President’s Prize, an annual award to those at the grassroots level who have contributed most to peace and reconciliation. The honorees will travel to the United States to exchange experiences on the issues we share, including community relations and conflict resolution. We have a lot to learn from one another. The President’s Prize will underscore that Northern Ireland’s two traditions have a common interest in peace.

As you know, and as the First Lady said, I have received thousands of letters from schoolchildren all over your remarkable land telling me what peace means to them. They poured in from villages and cities, from Catholic and Protestant communities, from mixed schools, primary schools, from schools for children with special needs. All the letters in their own way were truly wonderful for their honesty, their simple wisdom, and their passion. Many of the children showed tremendous pride in their homeland, in its beauty, and in its true nature. I congratulate the winners. They were wonderful, and I loved hearing their letters.

But let me tell you about another couple I received. Eleven-year-old Keith from Carrickfergus wrote, “Please tell everyone in America that we’re not always fighting here and that it’s only a small number of people who make the trouble.” Like many of the children, Keith did not identify himself as Protestant or Catholic and did not distinguish between the sources of the violence.

So many children told me of loved ones they have lost, of lives disrupted and opportunities forsaken and families forced to move. Yet they showed remarkable courage and strength and a commitment to overcome the past. As 14year-old Sharon of County Armagh wrote, “Both sides have been hurt. Both sides must forgive.”

Despite the extraordinary hardships so many of these children have faced, their letters were full of hope and love and humor. To all of you who took the time to write me, you’ve brightened my holiday season with your words of faith and courage, and I thank you. To all of you who asked me to do what I could do to help peace take root, I pledge you America’s support. We will stand with you as you take risks for peace.

And to all of you who have not lost your sense of humor, I say thank you. I got a letter from 13-year-old Ryan from Belfast. Now, Ryan, if you’re out in the crowd tonight, here’s the answer to your question. No, as far as I know, an alien spacecraft did not crash in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. [Laughter] And Ryan, if the United States Air Force did recover alien bodies, they didn’t tell me about it, either, and I want to know.

Ladies and gentlemen, this day that Hillary and I have had here in Belfast and in Derry and Londonderry County will long be with us as one of the most remarkable days of our lives. I leave you with these thoughts. May the Christmas spirit of peace and good will flourish and grow in you. May you remember the words of the Lord Mayor, “This is Christmas. We celebrate the world in a new way because of the birth of Emmanuel: God with us.” And when God was with us, he said no words more important than these, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall inherit the Earth.”

Merry Christmas, and God bless you all.

National Christmas Tree Lighting


Thank you so much. To John Betchkal, the Pageant of Peace Chairman; Reverend John Tavlarides; to the Sherando High School Choir, congratulations, you guys were great tonight; to Brendan and Bridget Walsh; the Washington Ballet; to Denyce Graves and Jack Jones and Kathie Lee Gifford and the Navy Band; and of course, to Santa Claus. I would come here every year just to see Santa Claus.

We gather to begin our Nation’s celebration of the Christmas season with the lighting of this magnificent tree, a symbol, as evergreens have always been, of the infinite capacity of nature and people to renew themselves. We give gifts, and we count our blessings.

My fellow Americans, I have just returned from a very moving trip to Europe, to England and to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, to Germany to see our troops, and to Spain. And I can tell you that among the things that I feel most grateful for at this Christmas time is the way people around the world look at our America. They see a nation graced by peace and prosperity, a land of freedom and fairness. And even though it imposes extra burdens on us, they trust us to work with them to share the blessings of peace.

This is my second Christmas tree lighting of the season, for just a few days ago I was in Belfast with the people of Northern Ireland, Protestant and Catholic alike, searching, yearning, longing for peace, celebrating their second Christmas of peace. I’m proud that I was introduced there by two children, a little Catholic girl named Catherine Hamill and a young Protestant boy named David Sterritt, who joined hands and told the world of their hopes for the future, a future in which the only barriers they face are the limits of their dreams. That is the future we should want for our children and for all the children of the world.

I’m very pleased that Catherine Hamill, who touched the whole world with the story of her suffering and her family’s losses in Northern Ireland, and her family are here with us tonight to celebrate this lighting of the Christmas tree. And I’d like to ask her to stand up right down here and ask all of you to give her a fine hand. She has come all the way from Northern Ireland. [Applause]

Remember at this Christmas time we celebrate the birth of a homeless child, whose only shelter was the straw of a manger but who grew to become the Prince of Peace. The Prince of Peace said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Let us bless the peacemakers at this Christmas time from the Middle East to Northern Ireland to our own troops in Bosnia. Let us pray especially for our peacemakers, those who will go to Bosnia and those who are soon to come home from Haiti.

And let us resolve, my fellow Americans, to be peacemakers. For just as so many nations around the world and so many children around the world cry for peace, so do we need peace here at home in our toughest neighborhoods, where there are children, so many children who deserve to have their childhood and their future free and peaceful.

And let us remember from the example of the Prince of Peace how even the humblest of us can do, through acts of goodness and reconciliation, extraordinary things. And as we light this wonderful Christmas tree, let us all remember that together a million small lights add up to make a great blaze of glory, not for ourselves but for our families, our Nation and the world, and for the future of our children.

Merry Christmas, and blessed are the peacemakers.

Remarks at “Christmas in Washington”
December 10, 1995
Thank you. Thank you, Kelsey. I’d like to thank all the cast of “Frazier,” Peri and Jane and John and David, for the wonderful job they did tonight; Gloria Estefan; Clint Black; Al Green; Dawn Upshaw; the Naval Academy Glee Club—makes you proud to be Commander in Chief—[laughter]—the U.S. Army Band’s Herald Trumpets also do; the magnificent Eastern High School Chorus; and of course, Ian Frazier and the “Christmas in Washington” Orchestra, for the magnificent music all of you have given us. Let’s give them a great hand. [Applause]

Every year, Hillary and Chelsea and I really look forward to this wonderful “Christmas in Washington” evening. Besides getting us into the holiday spirit, it also gives us the opportunity to recognize one of our country’s preeminent health care facilities, the Children’s National Medical Center right here in Washington.

As always, Christmas is a time for us to reflect on our good fortune in the past year. This Christmas, I have much to be grateful for. But among the things I am most grateful for is the way the people all around the world still look at our beloved land. Recently I returned from Europe, where this was brought home to me ever more than before. People see America as a nation graced by God with peace and prosperity, a land of fundamental fairness and great freedom. And even though it sometimes imposes extra burdens on us, it is wonderful to know that people the world over trust us to work with them to achieve and share the blessings of peace.

So at Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of a homeless child whose only shelter was the straw of a manger but who grew up to become the Prince of Peace, let us remember that He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” And let us ask the blessings of peace this Christmas for everyone, from the Middle East to Northern Ireland, to Bosnia, and not only for the children there but, of course, for our troops as well. And let us also as Americans resolve, each of us, to do what we can to be peacemakers, not only to bring peace and reconciliation around the world but also to the most difficult neighborhoods of our own Nation, to every child who deserves to be free from violence and full of hope. That is our prayer for this Christmas.

Hillary and Chelsea and I offer this wish of our season to all of you and to all Americans everywhere: Peace on Earth, good will toward men. Merry Christmas, and God bless you all.

Thank you.

Message on the Observance of Christmas
December 20, 1995

Warm greetings to everyone celebrating Christmas.

The Christmas story is dear and familiar to us all—shepherds and angels, Wise Men and King Herod, Mary and Joseph, and, at the heart of it all, a Child. This Child was born into poverty in a city too crowded to offer Him shelter. He was sent to a region whose people had endured suffering, tyranny, and exile. And yet this Child brought with Him riches so great that they continue to sustain the human spirit two thousand years later: the assurance of God’s love and presence in our lives and the promise of salvation.

Each year at Christmas, we celebrate these gifts with family and friends. We place candles in the window as a sign that there is always room for Christ in our homes. We put angels and stars and twinkling lights on the Christmas tree to remind us of the glory and mystery of Christ’s birth. We sing the old and beloved Christmas carols to express the joy filling our hearts, and we share special gifts with those we love, just as God shared His Son with us. And, in contemplating the nativity scene under the tree or in a neighbor’s yard, we realize that children hold a special place in God’s heart, since He sent His only Son to us as a little Child.

With this simple truth in mind, let us observe Christmas this year by making a solemn commitment to the children of our communities, our nation, and the world. Let us pledge to love and nurture them and promise to give them strong values and a chance to make the most of their God-given talents. Let us resolve that they will grow up in a world that is free and at peace. By cherishing the children God sends us, we express our love and gratitude for the one Child He sent whose coming offers forgiveness and hope to us all.

Hillary and I send best wishes for a blessed and joyous Christmas season and every happiness in the new year.

BILL CLINTON

The President’s Radio Address
December 23, 1995


Good morning. As you know, I have spent the last week in intense discussion with congressional leaders over how to balance the budget in 7 years. It’s important to balance the budget to lift the burden of debt from future generations.

In the last 3 years, we’ve cut our deficit in half, and we need to finish the job. But we have to balance the budget in a way that reflects our most fundamental values: increasing opportunity; asking everyone to assume responsibility; strengthening our families and the economy; and recognizing the duty we owe to each other, to our parents, our children, and those who need and deserve our help. That’s how we’ve reduced the deficit since I took office: cutting unnecessary programs; reducing the size of the Federal Government by 200,000; reducing redtape but investing in education, the environment, research and technology; protecting Medicare and Medicaid; reducing taxes on the hardest pressed working families. It’s worked. It’s given us more jobs, more new businesses, low inflation, and record economic performance in the stock market and in many other places.

Now, that’s how I want to finish the job of balancing the budget. But even as we continue talking, I hope Congress will agree to open the Government and open all the agencies that have closed so that we can end the financial and emotional turmoil for more than 280,000 furloughed Federal employees and 460,000 working-but-not-getting-paid Federal employees.

In the spirit of the holidays, we should do everything we can to put these people back to work and to resume critical services the American people need and deserve. Just last night, I signed legislation that Congress passed yesterday to allow 3.3 million veterans and 13 million needy children and their mothers to receive their benefits by January 1st. That’s a good start. I hope we can resume all services as we work together to balance the budget.

Our talks are making progress. Yesterday we agreed to resume our negotiations next week with the goal of reaching an agreement as soon as possible. I am confident we can end this impasse and pass a 7-year balanced budget.

As we look back at this year, in this season of hope, I think we ought to take just a little time to reflect on the progress and accomplishment of America. It should give us real optimism that we can finish this budget job and go on to greater things in 1996.

Nineteen ninety-five was a year in which our country had the opportunity and the responsibility to play our role as the world’s premier peacemaker. Our efforts opened the door to peace in places where only rancor and war had previously existed. As a peacemaker, not a policeman, we have helped the peace process finally begin to take hold in the Middle East, while we joined the world in mourning the tragic assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. We have done what Prime Minister Rabin would have wanted us to do: We’ve kept moving forward. And finally it looks like Israel and Syria will sit together in the United States to seek a way to resolve their differences and live together peacefully.

We’re also helping to bring peace to Bosnia. The Dayton agreement and our decision to join in the international effort to secure the peace in Bosnia has given the people of the former Yugoslavia a chance to rebuild their lives. After 4 long years of horrible violence, America now has the opportunity to lead in the effort to bring lasting peace to that war-torn country and to stabilize Central Europe as well.

In Northern Ireland, I saw thousands and thousands of children beginning to celebrate their second Christmas season of peace. And in Haiti, they will soon celebrate the very first peaceful transfer of power from one democratically elected President to another in the history of the country. And American leadership helped to make both those celebrations possible.

The seeds of peace are also sinking deeper roots right here in America. We just learned that last year our murder rate dropped 12 percent, the largest decline in 35 years. Violent crime overall is down 5 percent. Now, we know our work is far from done on too many of our mean streets. Too many of our children still are raising themselves, not being taught right from wrong. There is still too much crime and violence, and it’s still rising among teenagers in many parts of the country. But we are beginning to turn the tide. And we do know what works.

Much of the success is due to efforts in communities throughout our country to get guns off our streets and put more police on the streets and to give our young people something to say yes to as well as something to say no to. More importantly, it is due to the outpouring of grassroots community involvement in all these efforts, in the comprehensive fight against crime and violence. People are getting the message that community policing works. And it’s up to every citizen to rise up, reach out, and link arms with local police to keep their own neighborhoods safe and their schools safe. Now, the progress we’ve seen is cause for hope. We just have to keep working on it here at home.

From the Middle East to Northern Ireland, to our troops in Bosnia, to our toughest neighborhoods, America is leading the way to peace and reconciliation. All around the world billions of people look to America as a model of democracy and freedom. And we should see ourselves as others see us. We should finish the job of balancing the budget and reopening the Government in the spirit of cooperation and unity so that we can continue to grow and prosper together and be a force in the world for peace and freedom. That is the spirit of the season and the spirit of America.

Let each of us resolve to do what we can to be peacemakers. Let us bring peace to every child who deserves to be free from violence and full of hope. And as we celebrate the birth of a child whose only shelter was the straw of a manger, let us remember the words of the Prince of Peace who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” We ask the blessings of this peace for everyone. That is our prayer this Christmas.

Thanks for listening.

White House Christmas card 1996
White House Christmas card 1996

Remarks on Lighting the National Christmas Tree
December 5, 1996  (President’s remarks 55:30 minute mark)

Thank you very much. Chairman Betchkal, Reverend Smith, my friend Patti LaBelle—you did well with and without your singers. [Laughter] To the Richmond College Children’s Concert Choir and LeAnn Rimes, welcome, to the Mannheim Steamroller band, the Washington Ballet, the Boy and Girl Scouts. Let me join Santa Claus in also saying that we miss two important members the Pageant of Peace lost in the last year, Joe Reilly and Bill Harris. The spirit of Christmas was alive in them every day, and we remember them.

Hillary and I look forward to being here every year. I told Hillary when we were sitting here that I never quite get into the spirit of Christmas until I come here to the Pageant of Peace.

America’s Christmas tree is famous all over the world. Believe it or not, there’s even a new movie in Japan about two people who came to Washington and fell in love under this Christmas tree. It isn’t hard to see how that would happen, for this is a magic time.

We come here tonight to celebrate that magic, to rejoice in the spirit of the holiday season, no matter what our faith, a spirit of sharing and giving, of gathering with family and friends and coming together as one community. You can see it everywhere at this time of year.

And of course, at Christmas we come together especially to celebrate the birth of a child who came into the world without a home, only a stable’s roof to shelter him, who grew to teach the lesson of love and peace that has truly changed the world. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” he said, and those words still call us to action.

As we look around the world tonight, we know the spirit of peace is strong enough to triumph over the forces that still threaten it. Let us be grateful that our Nation is at peace and rejoice in the progress we have made to bring about peace on Earth. And let us not forget the work still to be done, from Bosnia to the Middle East to the Korean Peninsula.

Today our brave men and women in uniform are helping other people in other lands to make their peace. And across our country this holiday season people are joining in peace to feed the hungry, to bring toys to poor children who otherwise would not have them, and to reconcile our own differences. At Christmas and throughout the year the greatest gift of all we can give our own children is to make their world more safe, more peaceful, and more possible for them to make the most of their God-given potential. It is for our children that we must dedicate ourselves to making peace wherever we can, around the world, in every community, in our own homes, and perhaps most important, in our own hearts.

So as we light this wonderful tree, let us remember to let our own light shine all year long, to make the future of our children bright, to honor the spirit of peace at Christmas time.

Merry Christmas, and God bless you all.

Message on the Observance of Christmas, 1996
December 11, 1996

Warm greetings to everyone celebrating Christmas.

Each year during this blessed season, the world pauses to look back across the centuries to the birth of a Child. This Child was born to poor but loving parents in the small town of Bethlehem—born into a world where few noticed His coming, except for some simple shepherds and a few wise men. He was the Son of God and the King of Kings, but He chose to come among us as servant and Savior.

Though two thousand years have passed since Jesus first walked the earth, much remains the same. Today’s world is still caught up in the challenges and cares of everyday existence, and too often we crowd God into the background of our experience. Too often we still ignore His loving presence in our lives and the precious gifts of peace and hope that He so freely offers to us all. And today, as on that first Christmas morning, He still reveals himself to the loving, the wise, and the simple of heart.

As we gather with family and friends again this year to celebrate Christmas, let us welcome God wholeheartedly into our daily lives. Let us learn to recognize Him not only in the faces of our loved ones, but also in the faces of those who, like Jesus, are familiar with poverty, hardship, and rejection. And let us be inspired by His example to serve one another with generous hearts and open hands. In this way we will approach the dawn of a new century and a new millennium confident in God’s abundant grace and strengthened by His timeless promise of salvation.

Hillary joins me in praying that the peace and joy of this holiday season will remain with you throughout the coming year. Merry Christmas, and God bless you.

BILL CLINTON

Christmas Greeting to the Nation
December 23, 1996
The President. Hillary and I wish all of you the peace and joy of the holiday season, a time for us to rejoice in each other’s company and in the spirit of the season, a spirit of sharing and giving and making peace.

I want to send a special greeting to all the peacemakers among us, especially to our brave men and women in uniform who are away from home. You’re on a mission of peace. I join with all Americans to thank you for your service and to pray for your safe return.

The First Lady. Christmas is an opportunity for all of us to give thanks for the blessings we share as families, friends, and Americans. But most important, it is a time for children, and I hope that during this holiday season we will remember our Nation’s neediest children and extend the spirit of giving to them with our love, our prayers, and our generosity.

The President. May the spirit of Christmas and the magic of the wonderful season be with you and your loved ones throughout the holidays and in the new year to come. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and God bless you all.

WASHINGTON, : US President Bill Clinton (2nd-L) and US First Lady Hillary Clinton (L) sing Christmas songs with children from Washington area elementary schools who were invited to a Christmas party18 December at the White House. Clinton also read the Christmas classic "Twas The Night Before Christmas". AFP PHOTO/Paul J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, : US President Bill Clinton (2nd-L) and US First Lady Hillary Clinton (L) sing Christmas songs with children from Washington area elementary schools who were invited to a Christmas party18 December at the White House. Clinton also read the Christmas classic “Twas The Night Before Christmas”. AFP PHOTO/Paul J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Remarks on Lighting the National Christmas Tree
December 4, 1997  (President’s remarks 51:30 minute mark)

Thank you very much. I think, in the spirit of Christmas, the best gift I could give is a very brief Christmas message. [Laughter] Let me say to all of you, we’ve been doing this now for 85 years; for Hillary and me, Christmas begins with this wonderful ceremony. I want to thank all those responsible, and a special word of thanks to those who made it possible for the last 3 years for this beautiful Colorado spruce to be lit by solar energy.

Now I want to call up Whitney and Joseph, and ask them to stand with me, and put their hands on the switch. And I’m going to count down three, two, one, and they’ll flip the switch, and the Christmas tree will come on.

Merry Christmas to all of you. Three, two, one, light the tree.

Remarks at “Christmas in Washington”
December 14, 1997

Ladies and gentlemen, first let me begin by thanking Bob and Suzanne and all their whole network family for what has been a wonderful show. Thank you, Glenn Close; thank you, Aaliyah; thank you, Shirley Caesar; Deana Carter; Hanson; Thomas Hampson; the Eastern Choir; and of course, our Naval Academy Glee Club; the Army Herald Trumpets; our musicians and choir over there; and thank you to George and Michael Stevens for the wonderful job they do every year and especially this year.

Hillary and I look forward to celebrating “Christmas in Washington” every year. It gets us in the holiday spirit. If we’re not in now, we don’t have a chance. [Laughter] It also gives us another chance to thank the Children’s National Medical Center for the outstanding work that all of them do on behalf of our Nation’s children.

More than any other holiday, Christmas is for our children. We revel in their excitement. We rejoice in their growth. We renew our pledge to help them make the most of their God-given gifts. It all began with the miracle of a child, born in a manger, who grew to teach a lesson of peace that has guided us for 2,000 years now. It continues to light our journey toward a new century and a new millennium. Every child is a miracle, and it is for their futures that we must all dedicate ourselves to work for that universal, timeless vision of peace in every nation, in every community, and most important, in every heart.

Hillary and I and Chelsea wish you all a joyous holiday and a very happy new year. Thank you. God bless you. May the magic of Christmas be always with you.

Message on the Observance of Christmas, 1997
December 22, 1997

Warm greetings to everyone celebrating Christmas.

At this time of year, when the nights grow longer and often colder, our lives are brightened and our hearts warmed by the lights of Christmas. So much light surrounds our memories and celebration of Christmas: candlelight in the windows, colored lights twinkling on the tree, children’s faces lit with a joy that is reflected in their parents’ eyes. The beloved Christmas story itself is a story of light, for, as the Gospel of John tells us, Jesus came into the world as “the true Light” that illumines all humankind.

Almost 2,000 years later, that Light still shines amid the dark places of our world. It is reflected in the lives of so many quiet and generous people who strive daily to make life better for others—feeding the hungry, caring for the ill and elderly, cherishing and nurturing children. It radiates from the hearts of those who work for peace and justice in their communities, our nation, and the world. It shines in the efforts of men and women striving to break down the walls of fear, ignorance, and prejudice that cast shadows across too many lives and prevent us from becoming the people God intended us to be.

May all who celebrate Christmas this year rejoice in the special gifts of light that it brings: the love that warms our hearts, the faith that lights our journey, and the hope that promises us a bright future. Hillary and I wish you joy and peace during this Christmas season and much happiness in the New Year.

BILL CLINTON

Message on the Observance of Christmas, 1997
December 22, 1997

Warm greetings to everyone celebrating Christmas.

At this time of year, when the nights grow longer and often colder, our lives are brightened and our hearts warmed by the lights of Christmas. So much light surrounds our memories and celebration of Christmas: candlelight in the windows, colored lights twinkling on the tree, children’s faces lit with a joy that is reflected in their parents’ eyes. The beloved Christmas story itself is a story of light, for, as the Gospel of John tells us, Jesus came into the world as “the true Light” that illumines all humankind.

Almost 2,000 years later, that Light still shines amid the dark places of our world. It is reflected in the lives of so many quiet and generous people who strive daily to make life better for others—feeding the hungry, caring for the ill and elderly, cherishing and nurturing children. It radiates from the hearts of those who work for peace and justice in their communities, our nation, and the world. It shines in the efforts of men and women striving to break down the walls of fear, ignorance, and prejudice that cast shadows across too many lives and prevent us from becoming the people God intended us to be.

May all who celebrate Christmas this year rejoice in the special gifts of light that it brings: the love that warms our hearts, the faith that lights our journey, and the hope that promises us a bright future. Hillary and I wish you joy and peace during this Christmas season and much happiness in the New Year.

BILL CLINTON

Clinton Christmas Message December 23, 1997

 

Christmas 1998
Christmas 1998

Remarks on Lighting the National Christmas Tree
December 9, 1998 (President’s remarks 50:00 minute mark)

Thank you very much. Thank you, John. I want to thank you and all the people responsible, again, for this wonderful, wonderful evening. I’d like to thank our performers: Tony Bennett, Leona Mitchell, Jose Feliciano, the “Cats” crew, the Paul Hill choir, Al Roker, who has been a great Santa Claus tonight. I’d like to thank our Brownie and Cub Scout, Jessica Scott and Edgar Allen Sheppard. And of course, I’d like to thank Sammy Sosa and Mrs. Sosa for joining us tonight. We’re delighted to see them all.

Hillary and I look forward to this every year, and this, as you may know, is the 75th anniversary of this Christmas tree lighting. For us, Christmas always starts with this Pageant of Peace. Tonight we celebrate the beginning of this season of peace and hope, of sharing and giving, of family and friends. We celebrate the birth of the child we know as the Prince of Peace, who came into the world with only a stable’s roof to shelter him but grew to teach a lesson of love that has lasted two millennia. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” he said, and his words still call us to action.

The lights we illuminate tonight are more than the flickering bulbs on a beautiful Colorado blue spruce. They represent millions of individual acts of courage and compassion that light our lives. Like the Star of Bethlehem, these lights shine the promise of hope and renewal. Like the candles of Hanukkah, they stand for freedom against tyranny. Like the lamps that will soon light the mosques in the coming months of Ramadan, they evoke a call to community.

We light this tree in Washington, but all over the world we thank God that the light of peace is glowing as never before in Northern Ireland, in Bosnia, in the Middle East. In the coming year, let us rededicate ourselves to building the bonds of peace on Earth. Let those of us who are Americans express our appreciation to those who serve us in uniform, represented tonight by the United States Air Force Band, who help to preserve peace for us.

Now I’d like to ask Sammy and Jessica and Edgar to come up here and join me as we light the Christmas tree, our national tree. Let the spirit of the holidays, of peace and good will, be our beacon all year long. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. May God bless you all.

Now put your hands on the switch, and I’ll count down to one. Three, two, one. Light the tree!

Message on the Observance of Christmas, 1998
December 22, 1998

Warm greetings to everyone celebrating Christmas.

Each year during this season of light and hope, of sharing and giving, we celebrate the birth of a Child. This Child came into the world with only a stable’s roof to shelter Him; yet He grew to teach a lesson of love that continues to enrich our lives 2,000 years later.

That love is at the heart of Christmas. It is the love we give our children, who make our world radiant with joy and promise. It is the love of family and friends that inspires every gift and greeting we receive. It is the love that moves us to reject the prejudices that divide us. It is the love that calls us to ease the suffering of those touched by poverty, illness, injustice, or oppression. Above all, it is the love of God for each of us, revealed in the timeless gift of His Son.

Wherever Americans gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus, let us give thanks for the precious gift of love that graces our lives and lights our way toward a better future.

Hillary joins me in sending our warmest wishes for a memorable Christmas and a new year bright with the hope of joy and peace.

BILL CLINTON

Christmas Greeting to the Nation
December 23, 1998

The President. On this joyous occasion, Hillary and I would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. As we gather around our Christmas trees and dinner tables, let’s take the time to give thanks for the blessings of the year just passed, to rejoice in our children, to enjoy the company of family and friends.

As we approach the feast of light, I’d like also to send a special greeting to all the brave men and women in uniform who are serving our country in lands far from home. You’re in our hearts and our prayers. On behalf of all Americans, I thank you for the greatest gift of the season, for protecting our Nation and safeguarding the freedom we all hold dear.

The First Lady. Christmas reminds us that the values we share far outweigh whatever the differences there are between us. The twinkle of a child’s eye, the joy of a grandmother’s laughter, the love in the hearts of mothers and fathers for their children, all these blessings should be unwrapped on Christmas morning.

The President. May the spirit of the season be with you today and throughout the year. From our family to yours, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and God bless you all.

Christmas 1999
Christmas 1999

Remarks on Lighting the National Christmas Tree
December 8, 1999 (President’s remarks 56:20 minute mark)


Thank you. Thank you very much, Peter. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a wonderful ceremony every year, but this year it has been very special. I want to thank Wayne Newton and Renee Fleming, Marty Stuart, Al Roker—he’s a good Santa Claus. [Laughter] I want to thank the cast from “Chicago” and Ricky Payton and the Urban National Youth Choir and, of course, Colonel Tim Foley and the Marine Corps Band, “The President’s Own.” The best perk of the Presidency is the Marine Corps Band, and I want to give them all a hand. [Applause] They’ve been wonderful.

For over 85 years now, our country has gathered around our National Christmas Tree to celebrate the beginning of this wonderful season of peace and hope. I am honored once again to be part of a tradition I have come to look forward to every year. For me, Christmas always starts now with the Pageant of Peace and the lighting of this beautiful Colorado spruce. And I am especially honored to be here to light the last tree of the 20th century.

In this sacred season, it is time for all of us to renew our commitment to give of ourselves, to reach out to those who are less fortunate, to reach out to those who are different from us, to build the one America of our dreams. In this Pageant of Peace, we celebrate Christmas, also the season of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and others, all joined by a simple and universal message, that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.

This holiday season, we Americans have an awful lot to be thankful for: Our Nation is at peace, and all around the world we are privileged to make peace, from Bosnia to Northern Ireland to the Middle East, the land where a homeless child grew up to be the Prince of Peace.

Just today, in this season, I was proud to announce that after a long, long stalemate, the Israelis and the Syrians have agreed to meet again in just a few days to make their peace.

At the dawn of a new millennium, as we enjoy these wonderful performers and the timeless songs of all of our childhoods, let us rededicate ourselves to the true spirit of Christmas. As we light the National Christmas Tree, let us spread the light of peace and good will toward our family, our friends, our neighbors, and all those across the world, especially those who need it most.

Merry Christmas, happy new year, and God bless you.

I’d like to ask, now, the young scouts to come up and join me in lighting the Christmas tree. Caitlin Fong and Chris Alvarez—they’re going to come up here. And didn’t they do a good job? Let’s give them another hand. [Applause]

Unlike the sissies, like me, they did it without any coats on, either. I thought they were wonderful. All right, you put your hands on the switch now, and I’m going to count from three down to one and tell you to flip it, okay? Ready? Three, two, one, go!

Good job.

Message on the Observance of Christmas, 1999
December 21, 1999

Warm greetings to everyone celebrating Christmas.

Saint Matthew’s Gospel tells us that, on the first Christmas 2000 years ago, a bright star shone vividly in the eastern sky, heralding the birth of Jesus and the beginning of His hallowed mission as teacher, healer, servant, and savior. Jesus’ birth in poverty proclaimed the intrinsic dignity and brotherhood of all humanity, and His luminous teachings have brought hope and joy to generations of believers. Today, as the world stands at the dawn of a new millennium, His timeless message of God’s enduring and unconditional love for each and every person continues to strengthen and inspire us.

During this blessed season and the Jubilee Year it inaugurates, let us share the gift of God’s love by giving of ourselves and by sharing generously with those in need. Let us reach out to those who are different from us, yet one in the human family, by living the profound and universal lesson Jesus taught us: that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. Let us, like Jesus, become true peacemakers, bringing the gift of peace to our homes, our schools, our communities, and our nation. And let us continue to reach out when and where we can to give new hope to the most impoverished and to help resolve conflicts, both ancient and new, in regions around the world.

Love, peace, joy, hope—so many beautiful words are woven through our Christmas songs and prayers and traditions. As we celebrate this last Christmas of the 20th century, let us resolve to build a future where all people learn to love one another and to live together in harmony; where our children know true joy; and where our hopes for peace, freedom, and prosperity for all are finally realized.

Hillary joins me in extending best wishes for a wonderful Christmas celebration and every happiness in the new year.

BILL CLINTON

Christmas Greeting to the Nation
December 24, 1999
The President. On this holiest of holidays, Hillary and I would like to wish all of you a very merry Christmas. This is a season of joy, a time for family and friends to rejoice in one another’s company and in the magic of Christmas. This is also the season of peace.

On behalf of all Americans, I’d like to send a special greeting to the brave men and women in uniform who are serving our country in lands far from home. Thank you for the greatest gift of the season, for protecting our Nation and safeguarding the blessings we all hold dear.

The First Lady. At the dawn of this new millennium, let us reflect on our hopes, our dreams, and the gifts we can give to the future. So let all of us cherish the gift of every child among us and pledge to build a world where all children, no matter where they are born, can make their dreams come true.

The President. From our family to yours, merry Christmas, happy new year, and may God bless you all.

Prayer at Christmas II: Holy Eucharist Services
January 2, 2000
The President. Gathered in the spirit of truth and hope, in unity and peace, at the beginning of the new year, the dawn of a new century, and at the turn of the third millennium, let us offer before God our prayers and thanksgivings.

We give You thanks, O God, for the goodness and love You have made known to us in creation. You fill the world with beauty. Open our eyes to see Your handiwork in all creation and in one another.

Audience members. We thank You and praise You, O God.

The First Lady. We give You thanks, O God, for Your church throughout the world, and for religious faith and freedom in this country. Grant that all who seek You by many names may be united in Your truth, live together in Your love, and reveal Your glory in the world.

Audience members. We thank You and praise You, O God.

The President. We give You thanks, O God, for our Nation; for the gifts of liberty, freedom, and peace; for the women and men who have made this country strong. Give us, like them, a zeal for justice and truth, and grant that we and all the people of this land may, by Your grace, be strengthened to maintain our liberties and righteousness and peace.

Audience members. We thank You and praise You, O God.

The First Lady. We pray also for the world, for the leaders of the nations and for those who strive and work for peace, that all swords may be turned into plowshares and none may hurt or destroy.

Audience members. We thank You and praise You, O God.

The President. We give You thanks, O God, for creating all humanity in Your image, for the wonderful diversity of Your children, of Your races and creeds, cultures and tongues. Enrich our lives by ever-widening circles of fellowship, and show us Your presence in those who differ most from us.

Audience members. We thank You and praise You, O God.

The First Lady. In offering You thanks, O God, we become aware of our failings and shortcomings. Time after time, we fail to strive for the vision and world You hold out to us. We do not honor one another. We abuse Your creation. We take for granted our resources, and we fail to recognize Your gracious hand in the harvests of land and sea. Grant us a respect for your whole world.

Audience members. Forgive us, heal us, and restore us, O God.

The President. Time after time, O God, we fail to follow Your ways and to live up to the hopes of our Founding Fathers and Mothers. We turn from the path of justice and peace to follow the way of hatred and anger. So move our hearts that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease, and that, in Your wisdom and love, we may live with our world family in true justice and peace.

Audience members. Forgive us, heal us, and restore us, O God.

The First Lady. Time after time, O God, we hoard the bounty of Your goodness. We store up goods for ourselves and ignore the cry of the poor and hungry. We store up liberty and justice for ourselves and ignore the cry of the oppressed. Look with favor upon the people of this and every land who live with injustice, terror, poverty, disease, and death, and grant that we who are so richly blessed may, with Your help, respond with costly love and compassion.

Audience members. Forgive us, heal us, and restore us, O God.

The President. Let us pray.

Dear Lord, as we awaken to this second morning of a new millennium, help us to remember that all we are and all we do begins with You, for whom a thousand years are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

So we begin this jubilee year in humility, with profound thanks for the divine light first revealed 2,000 years ago that has brought us now to this sacred place today. Each in our own way, we thank You for the blessings of this life. For me and my family, I give You thanks for good health, good fortune, and the opportunity to serve the American people.

We thank You for the amazing grace You have shown in getting us through and beyond our individual and collective sins and trials. Through the darkest hours of the 20th century, the shameful trauma of racial oppression, the pain and sacrifice of war, the fear and deprivation of depression, when all we could do was walk by faith, it was Your guiding light that saw us through.

We thank You for the promise of the new century and ask Your guidance and grace in helping us to make the most of it; to free our children of hunger, neglect, and war; to ease the burdens of the less fortunate; to strengthen the bonds of family; to preserve and protect our earthly home; to use new advances in science and technology to lift all the human family and draw us all closer together.

Finally, we thank You for the rich and wonderful diversity of human life with which You have graced this planet and ask You to give us the strength and wisdom to give up our fear, distrust, and hatred of those who are different. Teach us instead to learn from each other and celebrate our differences, secure in the knowledge that we are all Your children.

Our Constitution tells us You created us all equal. Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. The Koran says we must do unto all men as you wish to have done to you and reject for others what you would reject for yourself. The Talmud instructs us, should anyone turn aside the right of the stranger, it is as though he were to turn aside the right of the most high God.

By Your grace, we have survived in spite of our blindness to this, Your truth. Help us now to accept at long last the enduring truth that the most important fact of life is not wealth or power or beauty or scientific advance but our kinship as brothers and sisters and our oneness as children of God.

This, Holy Father, is our prayer for the new millennium.

Audience members. Amen.

President William J. Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton stand in front of the White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room, December 3, 2000 (Photo by Clinton Presidential Library)
President William J. Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton stand in front of the White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room, December 3, 2000 (Photo by Clinton Presidential Library)

Remarks on Lighting the National Christmas Tree
December 11, 2000 (President’s remarks 56:45 minute mark)

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. First, I’d like to thank Peter Nostrand and all the people who work on the Pageant of Peace every year. They give us a wonderful night, and I think we ought to give them all a big hand. Thank you very much. [Applause]

I’d love to thank these people who have come out in the cold to perform for us: our friend Kathy Mattea; Charlotte Church; Billy Gilman; the cast of “Fosse;” the West Tennessee Youth Chorus; Al “Santa Claus” Roker. [Laughter]

I also want to thank Anastasia Wroblewski and Kwami Dennis, our Camp Fire Boy and Camp Fire Girl. They did a great job up here. It’s not so easy to remember those speeches. [Laughter] I thought they were terrific.

And I’d like to thank Thomas Kinkade for his beautiful portrait that’s on the cover of our program, and the United States Navy Band. Thank you very much.

On Christmas Eve more than 75 years ago, President Calvin Coolidge lit the first National Christmas Tree. He later said, “Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind, to cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy.”

Every President since President Coolidge has been part of that tradition, gathering around the Colorado spruce to rejoice in the spirit of Christmas and to celebrate a new season of peace and good will.

Hillary, Chelsea, and I always look forward to celebrating the Pageant of Peace with you, and the many traditions of the holiday season. Tonight, as we enjoy our last Christmas season in the White House and the last time I’ll have a chance to be here at the lighting of the Christmas tree, we are profoundly grateful for the gift you and all the American people have given us, the privilege to serve these last 8 years, to live in this marvelous old house, and to participate in wonderful ceremonies like this.

For Americans of many faiths, this is a season of renewal, of light returned from darkness, despair transformed to hope, a time to reflect on our lives, rejoice in our blessings, and give thanks. Tonight, on this first Christmas of the new millennium, we celebrate an America blessed with unprecedented peace and prosperity and a nation that through more than 220 years and even the toughest times has held together by the enduring values enshrined in our Constitution.

This is a time for us to reflect, too, on that good fortune and a time to rededicate ourselves to the lessons of love and reconciliation taught by a child born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. As we gather to decorate our trees and light our menorahs, let us remember the true meaning of the holidays by taking some time to give to those who need it most. And let us be thankful for the sacrifices of all those who serve us, especially those who serve us in the military who won’t be home this year for Christmas.

Let me say that when I leave you tonight, I’m going to Northern Ireland, to a small island where people were born that eventually came to America and gave us over 40 million of our citizens; a place where Saint Patrick brought the spirit of Christmas almost 1,500 years ago. I hope that we can finish the business of peace there and help, again, America to give a gift to the rest of the world.

To all of you, again I say, this has been a humbling and wondrous gift. We thank you, all of us in our family, for the chance to serve yours. God bless you; Merry Christmas, and let’s light the tree.

Thank you very much. Ready, set, go!

Message on the Observance of Christmas, 2000
December 22, 2000

Warm greetings to everyone celebrating Christmas.

At this joyous season each year, we savor our treasured Christmas traditions: a favorite ornament placed carefully on the tree, candles in the windows, a wreath on the door, family and friends gathered to exchange not only material gifts, but also the gifts of love and laughter. But amidst all these traditions, we remember that the true message of Christmas is in the Child whose birth we celebrate—the living proof of God’s mercy and unending love. Christ’s message of renewal and reconciliation is as fresh and powerful today as it was on that first Christmas two thousand years ago.

For Americans of many faiths, this is a season of renewal—of light shining through the darkness, of despair transformed to hope. This year, Christmas is celebrated during the same week as Jews celebrate Hanukkah and Muslims celebrate the Eid Al-Fitr—a powerful and moving reminder that followers of the three Abrahamic faiths share fundamental values: a reverence for our Creator, a belief in human dignity, and a conviction that we must love our neighbors as ourselves. By building on these shared values, we can create a future where all God’s children live together in peace and understanding.

As Hillary, Chelsea, and I enjoy our last Christmas in the White House, we extend best wishes to all for a wonderful celebration and for peace and happiness in the years to come.

BILL CLINTON

Christmas Greeting to the Nation
December 24, 2000
The President. Hillary and I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. Tonight we gather with family and friends to reflect on our good fortune, rejoice in memories of the last year, and look forward with hope to the year ahead.

The First Lady. So from our family to yours, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and God bless you all.

The President. On this holiest of holidays, Hillary and I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. Tonight we gather with family and friends to reflect on our good fortune, rejoice in memories of the year past, and look forward with hope to the days ahead.

The First Lady. From our family to yours, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and God bless you all.

The President. On this holiest of holidays, Hillary and I would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. Tonight we gather with family and friends to reflect on our good fortune, rejoice in the memories of the year past, and look forward with hope to the days ahead.

And we give thanks to America’s men and women in uniform, who are spending this holiday protecting freedom around the world.

The First Lady. And we also remember those who are too often left behind, because Christmas isn’t just about getting gifts; it’s about the miracle of giving them. As we enjoy our last Christmas in the White House, the President, Chelsea, and I are profoundly grateful for the gift you’ve given our family, the privilege of serving your family these last 8 years.

The President. So from our family to yours, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and God bless you all.

 

Presidential Christmas Messages

Presidential Christmas Messages 4

 

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