Remarks by the President at Christmas Pageant of Peace Ceremony (12/11/2000)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                  December 11, 2000

                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

                                The Ellipse
                             Washington, D.C.

5:55 p.m. EST

     THE PRESIDENT:  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.  I thank Kathy Mattea, Charlotte Church, Billy Gilman, the
cast of "Fosse," the West Tennessee Youth Chorus, Al "Santa Claus" Roker --

     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

     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.  (Applause.)

     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, [t]o 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 goodwill.

     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 eight 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 2000 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 St.
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 and merry Christmas.  And let's light the tree.

     Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

                          END             6:05 P.M. EST

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