December 6th, 2013
08:27 PM ET
9 years ago

Obama lights National Christmas Tree, pays tribute to Nelson Mandela

(CNN) - President Barack Obama and his family lit the National Christmas Tree on Friday, continuing a 91-year tradition in Washington. In his remarks at the ceremony, the President also paid tribute to Nelson Mandela.

"This year we give a special measure of gratitude for Nelson Mandela and man who championed that generosity of spirit," Obama said of the iconic former president of South Africa, who passed away Thursday at the age of 95.

"In his life, he blessed us with tremendous grace and unbelievable courage, and we are all privileged to live in a world touched by his goodness."

The President wished onlookers a Merry Christmas and holiday season on behalf of the first family, including dogs Bo and Sunny.

"We are our brother's keeper. We are our sister's keeper. So on this season of generosity let's reach out to those who need help the most,” he said. “Let's make sure that in this season of reflection our incredibly brave service members and their families know how much we appreciate their sacrifice.”

"In this season of hope, let us come together as one people, one family to ensure that we are doing everything we can to keep America the land of endless opportunity and boundless optimism for which we are so thankful."

The lighting ceremony took place on the Ellipse in President's Park. Obama was introduced by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.

Mariah Carey took the stage to cheers shortly after the President. The performance lineup also included Aretha Franklin and the band Train.

On Thursday, Obama, joined by first lady Michelle Obama, marked the end of Hanukkah with two receptions at the White House.

Filed under: Malia Obama • Michelle Obama • President Obama • Sasha Obama • Washington
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. freedom

    Unbelievable the same organization that gave a Nobel Peace prize to Mandela, also gave one to Obama. Mandela was in prison for a noble cause for 27 years for his people. Obama wants to imprison Americans with his socialist, Marxist agenda, and has divided the country on race at every opportunity. The peace prize has become totally devalued.

    December 7, 2013 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  2. sjdsh

    Mandela urged for the end to harsh UN sanctions imposed upon Libya in 1997, and pledged his support for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi,his greatest supporter&friend.
    *“It is our duty to give support to our brother and good leader…especially in regards to the US sanctions which are not hitting just him, they are deliberately hitting the ordinary masses of the people, our African brothers and sisters,”-Mandela-
    –He hated Obo & Michelle for their gleeful rape and maniacal nazi bombing of Libyans.

    December 7, 2013 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  3. Thomas

    great Christmas Tree.

    December 7, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  4. Evergreen

    Thank you Mr. President.

    December 7, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  5. Edurrance lme Ekpo

    Tree of life has Nelson Mandala passed away @ 95.

    December 7, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  6. James L.

    Must drive the completely insane Marxists conspiracy theorists nutz.

    December 7, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  7. don in albuquerque

    interesting how some people hide, and what they are hiding behind the word "freedom"

    December 7, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |