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The Spirit of Christmas
Excerpt from the remarks of Pres. John F. Kennedy at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree,
December 17, 1962:

Now the most joyous of all days draws near and the approach of Christmas rekindles the flame
of hope in a world so long wearied by tension and conflict.  For the message of Christmas can
be found in the words of that radiant hymn:  "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace,
good will toward men."

Christmas is the time when we dedicate our thoughts to others, when we are reminded that
mercy and compassion are the enduring virtues; when we show, by small deeds and large, that
it is more blessed to give than to receive.

The birth of Christ has an intense significance for those of us who are Christians.  But the
message of Christmas goes to the hearts of all people, whatever their creed or faith - to men
standing guard tonight in the foothills of the Himalayas, to peoples struggling to achieve
nationhood in Africa and Asia, to families huddled in distant cities or striving for subsistence
on barren uplands, and to men and women beyond the Iron Curtain, for whom the memory of
Christmas will forever recall times of hope and happiness.

As we celebrate Christmas by our own fireside, we must keep a place in our hearts for men and
women far from home.  They are abroad in the armed forces, in the foreign service, in the
Peace Corps, in the United Nations and in a multitude of private capacities.   They will celebrate
Christmas in remote lands because they have chosen to make their own personal
contributions to the fulfillment of the message of peace.

During the Christmas season, as we pause and reflect, we begin at last to perceive the deeper
values from which life gains its true meaning.  The commandment of love, the commandment of
mercy, the commandment of peace - these are the aspirations which nourish the spirit and
fortify the soul.  Let us mark this Christmas by renewing our own inner commitment to the
message of Christ in all its variety and power.  

The Christmas season brings to mind particularly the words of Genesis:  "Let there be no
strife, I pray thee, between thee and me."  As we light this tree, as trees are lit across our land
and across the earth, let the spirit of Christmas rise freely within us - and, in that divine
illumination, let us strive to work in the spirit of the Manger to drive bitterness and hate and
cruelty from the souls of men.  This is the true meaning of Christmas and in this spirit may I
send you and, on your behalf, send all the world warmest Christmas greetings.
With one exception, the photos on this
page were all taken in New England.