6:24 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much. And, Ryan, I want to thank you for doing such a beautiful job all throughout the season. And welcome everyone. Merry Christmas. Special time of the year.
Melania and I are thrilled to be here today as we celebrate one of the nation’s most cherished traditions: the lighting of the National Christmas Tree.
Tonight’s ceremony is only possible because of the hard work of the many talented individuals. They were working late at night. They were working early in the morning. They were working all the time. And my sincere thanks to everyone at the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation. Thank you very much. Appreciate it. (Applause.)
And let me also extend my deep appreciation to all of tonight’s wonderful entertainers. There’s great talent. They’re going on to big things, many of them. I’ve seen them and they are something very special. Thank you very much. That was a great job tonight. (Applause.)
And this includes one very special group that has topped Billboard charts multiple times: the Dominican Sisters, who I met backstage, from Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Applause.)
And a very special recognition to the students who designed stunning ornaments to decorate 56 different Christmas trees here in President’s Park. Thank you, students. I hear you out there. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
And in — when they were doing the 56 trees, there were one for each state and the territories in our magnificent country. We have truly a great, great country. We’re very proud of it, and we love it deeply. (Applause.)
For Christians all across our nation, around the world, this is a sacred season that begins 2,000 years ago when Jesus Christ was born. An angel declared to the shepherds tending their flocks, “Behold, I bring you good tidings, great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is a born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Applause.) There in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph held in their hands the son of God; the light of the world; and, through Him, the promise of eternal salvation.
No matter one’s faith or beliefs, the Christmas season reflects all that is best in the American spirit. This is a time of the year for rejoicing with our family and friends, for spreading charity and goodwill in our commitment all over this country in all of our communities, and for giving thanks for all of the blessings in our lives.
We are especially thankful for the countless Americans who have given their time and passion to help those in need. Here in the audience today are a number of extraordinary foster families and guardians joined by the beautiful children they have welcomed into their homes. And beautiful children they are. Your devotion inspires us all. To every child in foster care: You are the precious loved one and gift of God. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Very, very special.
At this time of the year, we renew the bonds of affection between our fellow citizens, and we awaken the faith in our hearts that calls each of us to action. As we gather loved ones, our thoughts turn to those who are rebuilding their lives after devastating wildfires, destructive hurricanes, and terrible tragedy.
We are one American family. We hurt together, we heal together, and we will always pull through together. This is the United States of America. We are the best in the world, and there’s nobody close. (Applause.)
Tonight, we honor the first responders who risked their lives to save the lives of others. And all of America sends our profound gratitude to the incredible men and women of the United States Military. (Applause.) And I’m proud to say our military right now is stronger than ever before. (Applause.)
Their families are all our families, and we thank them so much for their greatness and for the incredible job they do. Thank you to the United States Military. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
We ask God to watch over this nation’s heroes, and to shed his almighty grace upon our nation. And we pray that America’s light will shine more brightly and stronger than ever. And it will.
On behalf of Melania and myself and the entire Trump family — many of whom are with us tonight — I want to again wish you all a very, very Merry Christmas. May this Christmas season bring peace to your hearts, warmth to your homes, cheer to your spirit, and joy to the world. Merry Christmas, everyone. Merry Christmas and God bless you. Thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
6:30 P.M. EST