The 2013 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was officially lit Monday evening.
The 88-foot tall Engelmann spruce from Colville National Forest in Colville, Washington, was the star of the West Front show. House Speaker John Boehner was aided by Giovanni Gaynor, a first grader from Colville.
Gaynor, who someday wants to be a police officer, was named a junior officer for the day by Boehner and Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine.
Boehner offered these remarks at the ceremony:
“You look up at this awe-inspiring Dome and you look up at the night sky, you get overwhelmed. Perhaps just as those humble shepherds were when the angel appeared before them.
“Out in the middle of nowhere, they must have wondered what on Earth was going on. ‘Fear not,’ the angel said, ‘For behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy… For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.’
“Off the shepherds went, finding the manger and kneeling before the embodiment of God’s light and love for each of us.
“This may be an old story, but still a mighty one to grasp. It takes great faith. And it takes true patience, much like the search for the perfect present itself.
“Slowly, we come to recognize it’s not so much about the telling of the story as it is the serving of the story. And what emerges is a spirit of giving and a message of hope for all seasons: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.’
“‘That,’ in the words of a great philosopher, ‘is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.’”