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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Aired December 2, 2004 - 17:55 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And let's go back to the Ellipse, near the White House, for the lighting of the National Christmas Tree. The president is there. He is about to be introduced.
Let's listen in to the program.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United States Marine Band, Ms. Connie Smith, and Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the chairman of the board of the Christmas Pageant of Peace, Peter F. Nostrand.
PETER NOSTRAND, CHAIRMAN, PAGEANT OF PEACE: Good evening.
In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge first turned on the lights of the National Christmas Tree, a fairly scrawny one over there near the White House. And our presidents has have come here every year to help celebrate this season of peace.
And that's the very message you have heard tonight of the pageant, the unending passion for freedom and peace. And here in Washington, people of all faiths come together for this special family tradition, the lighting of our National Tree. And again and again, our president and Mrs. Laura Bush have come here to help us.
Ladies and gentlemen, with affection and gratitude, I present to you the president of the United States.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
NOSTRAND: My pleasure. Thank you, sir.
I love your hat.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you all very much.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
Thank you. Thank you all.
Tonight we begin a joyous season, and the city of Washington is never more beautiful than during the holidays. At Christmas time, we celebrate good tidings first announced 2,000 years ago, and still a source of great joy in our world.
Laura and I are always happy to join in the Pageant of Peace, and we thank you all for coming this evening.
I thank our special guests. I want to thank Santa for such good weather.
I appreciate Peter, the chairman of the Pageant of Peace, and his wife Nancy (ph).
I want to thank John Betchkal, the president of the Christmas Pageant of Peace.
I want to thank the members of the board of the Christmas Pageant of Peace for your hard work in putting on this joyous festival.
I want to thank Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton. I want to thank other members of my Cabinet who are here tonight.
BUSH: I appreciate the members of Congress who are here. I want to thank Fran Mainella, he's the director of the park service, and all of the National Park Service employees.
I thank Dr. Scheiler (ph) and all the entertainers. Thanks so very much for being here tonight.
The season of Advent is always a season of hope. We think of the patient hope of men and women across the centuries who listened to the words of the prophets and lived in joyful expectation. We think of the hope of Mary, who welcomed God's plan with great faith. We think of the hope of the wise men who set out on a long journey, guided only by a slender promise traced in the stars.
We are reminded of the hope that the grandest purposes of the Almighty can be found in the humblest places. And we embrace the hope that all the love and gifts that come to us in this life are the signs and symbols of even a greater love and gift that came on a holy night.
The old carol speaks of a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. And every year at this time, we feel the thrill of hope as we wait on Christmas Day.
This Christmas, as loved ones come together, some in our military are separated from family by the call of duty, a long way from home. We have servicemen and women celebrating the holidays at bases from Europe to East Asia and on many fronts in the war on terror.
Especially for those deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq, the work is dangerous, and the mission is urgent. American servicemen and women are bringing freedom to many and peace to future generations. Their sacrifices defend us all and all Americans are grateful to them and to our military families.
Across our country, citizens are supporting our people in uniform with their prayers and many acts of kindness. Often the effort is led by children.
In Chantilly, Virginia, Brownie Troop 179, who are here tonight, by the way, collected donations of candy and sunscreen, bug spray and handmade cards to send to our soldiers overseas. They gathered more than 200 pounds of gifts and made sure the packages arrived on time for the holidays.
I'm sure those thoughtful gifts were gladly received. And I thank the Brownies for reminding the good people of our military how much they mean to America.
And to show our appreciation to the Brownies of Chantilly, Virginia, and all those who volunteer in our blessed land, we have two representatives of the troop to help Laura and me light our national Christmas tree. And so if Nicole and Clara will come forward, we will turn on the lights.
Are you ready? Now will you join me in the countdown? Five, four, three, two, one.
BLITZER: And there it is, a spectacular sight seen every year here in the nation's capitol, the lighting of the Christmas tree, the president and the first lady there.
Much more on this coming up throughout the night here on CNN. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. LOU DOBBS TONIGHT starts right now.
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