Presidential Christmas Messages – George Bush

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.

George Bush

Christmas 1990
President and Mrs. Bush in front of the 1990 White House Christmas Tree, December 12, 1990.

Remarks on Lighting the National Christmas Tree
December 14, 1989 (Presidents remarks 59:00 minute mark)

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.

Message on the Observance of Christmas
December 18, 1989

During the beautiful and holy season of Christmas, our hearts are filled with the same wonder, gratitude, and joy that led the psalmist of old to ask, “When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that Thou visitest him?” At Christmas, we, too, rejoice in the mystery of God’s love for us — love revealed through the gift of Christ’s birth.

Born into a family of a young carpenter and his wife, in a stable shared by beasts of the field, our Savior came to live among ordinary men. Yet, in time, the miraculous nature of this simple event became clear. Christ’s birth changed the course of history, bringing the light of hope to a world dwelling in the darkness of sin and death.

Today, nearly 2,000 years later, the shining promise of that first Christmas continues to give our lives a sense of peace and purpose. Our words and deeds, when guided by the example of Christ’s life, can help others share in the joy of man’s Redemption. During Christmas, we may symbolize this spirit of giving through the exchange of presents, but it is daily acts of goodness and generosity — performed time and time again throughout the year — that hold the true meaning of this holy season. Every kind and selfless deed we perform for others can rekindle in our hearts and in our communities the light of that first Christmas.

As we gather with family and friends this season, let us recall what our Savior’s life means to the world. Let us also rededicate ourselves to sharing the love that gives greater meaning and joy to Christmas and to every moment of life.

Merry Christmas, and God bless you.

George Bush

Bush Christmas 1990a
Christmas 1990

Remarks on Lighting the National Christmas Tree
December 13, 1990

Joe, thank you very much. Thank you, Joe Riley. And thank you, Jane Powell and Willard Scott and Ricky Van Shelton and Ruth Brown and the Army Band, the magnificent University of Wyoming Chorale and our members of the clergy, the California Raisins and, of course, Santa Claus. And may I give a special welcome to the American hostages, just home from Kuwait and Iraq, who are with us here tonight. And my thanks to Secretary Lujan and the Department of the Interior, and a special thanks to the National Coal Association for this year’s holiday gift: the 57 beautiful State and territorial trees lining our Pathway of Peace. It’s a wonderful 1990’s tale of careful stewardship and rebirth, for these trees were grown on mined land that has been reclaimed.

This Christmas tree lighting is always a very special moment. People talk of the magic of the season. Well, what is more magical than the way light dispels the darkness? And I’ve read that white light is actually made up of all the colors of the rainbow. So, that’s what we see in the glow of this tree — red and blue and yellow bulbs mixing together to become something new — one light that represents both unity and diversity. And that’s how I like to look at America: All of us, all different, all working together, giving the best of ourselves to make this country the strong, beautiful land that it is.

You know, there are so many emotions that we share tonight. We feel joy thinking of how freedom has at last illuminated the dark corners of Eastern Europe — and democracy coming to most of our own hemisphere. We feel pride thinking of our young men and women standing strong in the harsh, distant deserts and on the waters of the Persian Gulf — and for their courage is the true eternal flame which will never be extinguished. And we think of their parents and their loved ones here at home who miss them very much. And we join them all in praying for their safe return of their soldier or their airman or their marine or their sailor. And let us also add a prayer for those Americans — for many years, but still held hostage against their will in the Middle East.

And here tonight we also feel determination that the bright warmth of this holiday season will stay with us all year and that we will be guided by our inner North Star, making family unity and community service and national pride the center of our lives. We’re determined that our nation will become a constellation of hope made up of thousands of separate Points of Light, people helping those in need across our land. People like the more than 100 representatives of daily Points of Light here tonight — individuals like W.W. Johnson, and volunteers for groups like the Higher Achievement Program and the D.C. Central Kitchen and Mary’s House. And following the lead of these Points of Light, let all of us echo that beautiful carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and like that long-ago Star, let us shine in all “dark streets” and to all people in the “deep and dreamless sleep” of loneliness and despair.

For nearly 70 years Presidents have taken part in this tradition: flipping a switch to send thousands of lights sparkling into the chill night sky. As we gather here, we’re doing what generations before us have done: watching our national Christmas tree become a brilliant symbol of hope, of peace, and of compassion for all the world. And so, let us pledge together that we will keep forever bright this shining legacy we celebrate here tonight. God bless the United States of America, and happy holidays to everybody. Merry Christmas! And now I will light the tree.

Message on the Observance of Christmas
December 18, 1990

At Christmas, people of every age and every walk of life celebrate with a profound sense of wonder, joy, and gratitude our Savior’s birth in Bethlehem. Like the shepherds called from nearby fields and the Magi who journeyed from distant lands to welcome the Christ Child, we are drawn to this miraculous event in history.

Born in a stable and greeted by a handful of faithful and obedient men, Christ came to assume the role of a shepherd, thus fulfilling the words of the prophet Isaiah: “He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm and carry them in His bosom.”

Christ’s brief time on Earth was devoted to tending the physical and spiritual needs of His flock: healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and illuminating the path to eternal salvation. His Incarnation radically altered the course of human history by challenging men and women to live according to the will of our just and merciful Father in Heaven. Today, Christ’s message of hope and redemption — first delivered on that holy night in the City of David — continues to bring peace and joy to millions of people around the world.

As we give and receive the goodwill of Christ during this holy season, let us be mindful of the true meaning of His life on earth and especially of His greatest commandment: to love God with all our heart and to love our neighbor as ourself. Events during the past year have given us a renewed sense of hope, yet in some parts of the world, peace remains an elusive blessing this Christmas. Even in some of our own cities, poverty, despair, and drug-related violence prevent families and individuals from sharing in the promise of this season. Therefore, let us strive, by following Christ’s example in word and deed, to make peace on Earth a reality for all of God’s children.

Barbara joins me in wishing all of our fellow Americans a Merry Christmas. May this festive and holy season be filled with the warmth of family and friends and with the deep joy of knowing God’s love for mankind through the gift of His Son. God bless you.

George Bush

President George H.W. Bush reads a Christmas story to his grandchildren, December 1991.
President George H.W. Bush reads a Christmas story to his grandchildren, December 1991.

Message on the Observance of Christmas
December 11, 1991

At Christmas, we celebrate the promise of salvation that God gave to mankind almost 2,000 years ago. The birth of Christ changed the course of history, and His life changed the soul of man. Christ taught that giving is the greatest of all aspirations and that the redemptive power of love and sacrifice is stronger than any force of arms. It is testimony to the wisdom and the truth of these teachings that they have not only endured but also flourished over two millennia.

Blessed with an unparalleled degree of freedom and security, generations of Americans have been able to celebrate Christmas with open joy. Tragically, that has not always been the case in other nations, but we look to the future with optimism, and we celebrate the holidays with special gladness as courageous peoples around the world continue to claim the civil and religious liberty to which all people are heirs. The triumph of democratic ideals and the lessening of global tensions give us added reason for celebration this Christmas season, and as the world community draws closer together, the wisdom of Christ’s counsel to “love thy neighbor as thyself” grows clearer.

By His words and by His example, Christ has called us to share our many blessings with others. As individuals and as a Nation, in our homes and in our communities, there are countless ways that we can extend to others the same love and mercy that God showed humankind when He gave us His only Son. During this holy season and throughout the year, let us look to the selfless spirit of giving that Jesus embodied as inspiration in our own lives — giving thanks for what God has done for us and abiding by Christ’s teaching to do for others as we would do for ourselves.

Barbara joins me in wishing all of our fellow Americans a Merry Christmas. God bless you.

George Bush

Remarks on Lighting the National Christmas Tree
December 12, 1991

Welcome to this wonderful Washington tradition. And I am particularly proud tonight to have some very special friends here with us to help light our Nation’s Christmas tree. America’s prayers were answered when these men came home to us; so a special welcome to Terry Anderson and Madeleine Bassil. Here they are: Alann and Virginia Steen; and Thomas and Jean Sutherland; Joseph and Elham Cicippio; and Jesse and Badr Turner.

Have a great evening.

[At this point, the Christmas Pageant of Peace entertainment began.]

Well, thank you, Joe. Please be seated all of you, and it’s good to see the Secretary of the Interior, so many other special guests here. And, of course, a warm thank you to Marilyn Horne; this marvelous Tucson Boys Chorus; the Navy Band; Joe Williams; our favorites, the Gatlin Brothers over here. And all the performers who brought the Christmas spirit to Washington tonight.

And thanks to Santa. His big night is coming up. And we don’t have to ask this particular Santa, Willard Scott, what the weather’s going to be like on Christmas Eve. He’s predicting it. And he is right every once in a while. [Laughter]

This is a very special night. And I look over my shoulder here at the very special guests, the brave men who are with us here tonight. And on behalf of our loving country I say, finally, to Terry Anderson, to Tom Sutherland, Joseph Cicippio, and Alann Steen and Jesse Turner, and the others not here: Welcome home.

Welcome home, to this, the most generous and proud and free Nation on the face of the Earth. It is more than just appropriate, it is almost miraculous that we can celebrate with these five the lighting of our Nation’s Christmas tree. The idea is so moving because these men have come out of darkness into the bright light of liberty. And as you hear these remarkable men talk, you realize they were never lost in that darkness of sorrow, anguish, and despair. Even at the worst moments, they were guided by a stubborn spark that cruelty could not extinguish, the spark of the human spirit.

Their precious gift to us is to rekindle our Nation’s belief in the light of faith and our belief in ourselves. And when Terry and Tom and Joseph and Alann and Jesse light our Nation’s tree tonight, that act will be a reminder of what they and their companions, living and gone, have already done to light our Nation’s soul.

There have been special guests at these ceremonies before. Even Winston Churchill helped to light the tree during World War II, but this Nation has never been honored by the presence of men whose spirit meant more to all of us. Your fortitude, your humor, and generosity tell us the true meaning of this season. And at this time of year especially, these men remind us that the glitz and glamour of material things don’t matter; the courage, the faith, and the love of these men embody, that they embody, are all we need to recognize what’s really important.

The way they’ve returned to their families and to us proves they live by the challenge of that beautiful prayer of St. Francis, “Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. Where there is despair, let us sow hope; where there is hatred, love; and where there is darkness, ever light.”

When history remembers Christmas 1991, let it remember that tonight we gathered with men who show us that this is a season of spirit, not a celebration of plenty.

Let history remember that tonight we stood with these two heroes and asked for God’s blessing on this world. And finally, in the words of the carol we’ll sing in a few minutes, let history remember that at Christmas 1991, this Nation united to give thanks to God and to ask God for peace on earth, goodwill to all.

God bless these five men, this wonderful country, and now I’d like to ask them to join me as we light the Nation’s Christmas tree.

Christmas Address to the Nation
December 23, 1991

Merry Christmas!

I’d like to offer a special greeting to the men who were held hostage so long, and to their families who never surrendered hope through the long years of isolation and hardship.

These valiant people sustained themselves through faith and friendship, character and courage. They demonstrated the strength of American ideals, character and determination, a strength that inspired the entire world in 1991.

Nineteen ninety-one has been a year of dramatic change and challenge. It was about 1 year ago, in the interest of world peace, that I decided Saddam Hussein’s aggression would not stand even if force had to be used. We tried diplomacy and economic embargoes, and then we moved against the brutal dictator and liberated Kuwait.

When our troops returned home, we felt whole, proud of their courage, confident in ourselves. And that was just the beginning of a momentous year.

Who would have thought 12 months ago, that the Soviet Union as we have known it would no longer exist. Who would have thought that Arabs and Israelis in the Middle East would sit down to discuss ways of forging a permanent peace. And who would have thought that we would see democracy and freedom sweep the globe so dramatically. Who would have thought that American ideals would triumph with such startling suddenness.

In 1991, the impossible became history. And now we must capture that same spirit of belief in ourselves as we overcome hard times at home and build a foundation for lasting prosperity and peace.

And we’ve already started. Just last week I signed a transportation bill that will put hundreds of thousands of Americans back in good jobs. This year, we unleashed a revolution in education. And I can tell you by the end of this decade, we will have the world’s best schools. And our children will lead the next generation to a better future.

And next week I’ll travel to Asia to fight for open markets and more opportunities for American workers because exports abroad mean more jobs right here at home. Let there be no mistake, my number one priority is jobs and economic growth. And I’m confident that we will succeed.

Let us remember that American ideals, faith, fellowship, family, freedom, are the values that will shape the world dawning before us. Already, Americans have banded together to help those in need, and that’s appropriate for this season of faith. It’s also the way Americans are: decent, helpful, full of ambition and hope, united in their devotion to community and family. Thank God for our families.

When I lit our National Christmas Tree in Washington nearly 2 weeks ago, thousands of lights illuminated the towering spruce, thousands of warm beacons transformed the night. Each day we can light the darkness by helping someone in need, working to see that no elderly person goes to bed hungry; that no homeless person spends another night shivering on the streets; that no child sits alone, unloved, unknown.

Americans have the talent and power to do anything. And so when history remembers Christmas, 1991, let it remember that we promise to bring God’s light to our brothers and sisters in need. Let it record that on Christmas, 1991, this Nation united to ask God for peace on Earth, goodwill to all. And let it record that a new age of goodness and hope began here and now.

God bless you, and may your Christmas be bright with love.

President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush pose in front of the White House Christmas tree, December 8, 1992.
President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush pose in front of the White House Christmas tree, December 8, 1992.

Message on the Observance of Christmas
December 8, 1992

During the Christmas season, millions of people around the world gather with family and friends to give thanks for their blessings and to recall the events that took place in Bethlehem almost 2,000 years ago. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, whose life offers us a model of dignity, compassion, and justice, we renew our commitment to peace and understanding throughout the world. Through His words and example, Christ made clear the redemptive value of giving of oneself for others, and His life proved that love and sacrifice can make a profound difference in the world. Over the years, many Americans have made sacrifices in order to promote freedom and human rights around the globe: the heroic actions of our veterans, the lifesaving work of our scientists and physicians, and generosity of countless individuals who voluntarily give of their time, talents, and energy to help others — all have enriched humankind and affirmed the importance of our Judeo-Christian heritage in shaping our government and values. This Christmas we are especially grateful for the expansion of democracy and hope throughout the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere — progress that is being encouraged by the help of many Americans.

In some regions, however, the joy and peace that normally mark the Christmas season are marred this year by violence that is rooted in ethnic hatreds and nationalist rivalries. Our prayers go out especially in behalf of the victims of such fighting — just as our thoughts are with those who are helping to provide humanitarian relief. Their selfless, caring efforts are a wonderful example of the true meaning of Christmas.

Barbara joins me in wishing all of our fellow Americans a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

George Bush

Remarks on Lighting the National Christmas Tree
December 10, 1992 (Presidents remarks 57:30 minute mark)

Thank you, Joe, for being the President of the Christmas Pageant of Peace. And may I salute Lucie Arnaz and Lee Greenwood, Keshia Knight Pulliam; the world’s greatest weatherman, who missed it tonight, Willard Scott; the Children’s Chorus of Maryland; the cast of “A Christmas Carol” — great of them to come down; and of course, the U.S. Coast Guard Band.

Barbara and I are very pleased that all of you could be here tonight. It’s wonderful to see so many smiling faces in spite of the adversity. It’s especially wonderful to see the children. This is their holiday, an entire season dedicated to the impact of one child on the world. And there’s a lesson to be learned from these young people here. Look at what’s most important to them, the people they love.

Barbara and I want to dedicate this Christmas tree to the children of America, for they are more than our future; they are our present. And they remind us that we must love one another in order to achieve peace. We must love one another. Our prayers are with them and the ones they cherish.

May I simply say, let us think of the children of Somalia, too, the children everywhere who live in fear and want. Our prayers are with them, and may their families be safe and the sporadic fighting over there end soon.

Let us also say a special prayer for our Armed Forces who are doing their duty, vindicating the values of America and the spirit of Christmas in this far-off land. We salute them and their selfless devotion to country.

For Barbara and me and from our entire family, we wish you all a Merry Christmas, a happy and healthy New Year, and love that will outshine this tree year-round.

God bless you all, and God bless our great country, the United States of America. Merry Christmas.


Presidential Christmas Messages

Presidential Christmas Messages 4




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