Remarks on Lighting the National Christmas Tree

 

December 7, 1987

 

My fellow citizens, the 1987 Pageant of Peace has a special significance this year. The lighting of the National Christmas Tree with its Star of Peace atop could not come at a more symbolic moment. Two hours ago, General Secretary Gorbachev's plane touched down on American soil. I invited him to come and discuss ways in which we can reduce the tensions between our two countries. He and I will meet in hopes of promoting peace for our peoples and all the people of the Earth.

 

I hope the General Secretary is watching this on TV. I'd like him to see what we're celebrating, because for us, Christmas celebrates the cause of peace on Earth, good will toward men.

 

Peace on Earth, good will toward men -- I cannot think of a better spirit in which to begin the meetings of the next several days. As a small reminder of that spirit, the Star of Peace atop the National Christmas Tree will be lit day and night during the time our Soviet guests are here. And as we look out from the White House during our discussions, let the star remind us why we've gathered and what we seek.

 

In Luke, chapter 10, verse 5, we read: ``Peace be to this house.'' That blessing is most appropriate over the next several days. And with that said, Tommy Valente will light the National Christmas Tree, and let the Star of Peace shine for all of us.

 

[At this point, the National Christmas Tree, which was located on the Ellipse, south of the White House grounds, was lighted.]

 

Reporter. Mr. President, did you watch the arrival?

 

The President. Yes.

 

Q. Do you have some new words for him?

 

The President. No. He'll hear them in the morning.

 

Q. Bye.

 

Q. What will they be about, sir? New words on what?

 

The President. Our meetings.

 

Q. Do you want a second treaty for a Christmas gift?

 

The President. I'll take what we're going to have.

 

Note: The President spoke at 6:50 p.m. from the South Balcony of the White House during the annual Christmas Pageant of Peace. Prior to the ceremony the President met with pageant organizers in the Oval Office. Tommy Valente, a 5-year-old from Jackson, NJ, lighted the tree as a part of the Make-a-Wish program sponsored by the Starlight Foundation.