With Christmas a mere twelve days away, we are reminded of an American Christmas tradition that dates back to the 1920s when Calvin Coolidge was President of the United States: the annual lighting of the national Christmas tree. We are also reminded of President Nixon’s first national tree lighting duty as President of the United States.
In his remarks at the ceremony on December 16, 1969, President Nixon related to the American people the encompassing importance of this singular 75-foot Norway Spruce from Glens Falls, New York.

“As we look at this great tree, we are reminded of the fact that all over America during these next 2 weeks there will be trees in American homes. Forty-five million American homes will have Christmas trees they will be lighting each in their own way.”

RN and Pat Christmas

President Nixon, accompanied by First Lady Pat Nixon, is delighted after a moving lighting ceremony.

This was not just one large tree that adorned the ellipse by the White House in the spirit of Christmas, but a tree that reflected the common spirit of all Americans and one that belonged to the entire nation.

A month separated from his powerful Silent Majority speech, President Nixon coupled the lighting of the Christmas tree with a message for peace. The decade of the 60s—mired by unrest and uncertainty—was coming to a close. The 70s, as Nixon portrayed, would be a period for peace.

“And what we want for this Nation in not only peace now but peace in the years to come, peace for all people in the years to come.”

As the President prepared to light the Christmas tree, he reflected upon the great imagery the tree bestowed upon this nation:

“And my friends, I also say to you that as we look at this great tree, there is an old saying about Christmas trees. It goes something like this: May a Christmas tree be as sturdy as faith, as high as hope, as wide as love. And I could add, may a Christmas tree, our Christmas tree, be as beautiful as peace.”

Watch as President Nixon lights the national Christmas tree below:

1969 White House Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony from Nixon Foundation on Vimeo.

White House Christmas Wish
RN and PN wishing Americans a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year