Entries in Holiday Season (2)


The 'Obama Crew' Lights the National Christmas Tree

´╗┐Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The National Christmas Tree was lit Thursday night for the 88th time by the 44th president and his family, “the Obama crew,” as President Obama lovingly referred to his family when they joined him on stage on the Ellipse. The Obamas -- first lady Michelle Obama, Malia, Sasha and “Grandmother-in-Chief” Marian Robinson -- each put a finger on the button, and counting down from five, they pushed the large button to light the tree.

“It works,” Obama exclaimed as the 40-foot Colorado blue spruce was lit up, decked out in lights.

The president called this a “proud holiday tradition,” one that took place with presidents snow or shine, and even in period of hardships for the country.

“Often the ceremony itself has reflected the pain and sacrifice of the times. There were years during the second World War when no lights were hung in order to save electricity. In the days following Pearl Harbor Winston Churchill joined President Roosevelt to wish our nation a happy Christmas even in such perilous days.”

The president said that without fail each year the nation comes together to celebrate the story that he and Michelle hold dear as Christians, but is a message that is universal.

“It’s a message that says no matter who we are or where we are from, no matter the pain we endure or the wrongs we face, we are called to love one another as brother and as sisters.”

The president said that at a time when people try their hardest to live in the spirit of charity and goodwill, “we remember of brothers and sisters who have lost a job or who are struggling to make ends meet, we pray for the men and women in uniform serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and in faraway places who can’t be home this holiday season.”

Mrs. Obama read -- rather clumsily at first -- T'was the Night Before Christmas with children on stage. She skipped a few pages and then announced, “the first lady is taking off her gloves,” pulling her right glove off with her mouth in order to turn the pages easier.

The Obama family sat down in the front of the audience – a change of years past when the First Family has always been seated on stage -- listening to performers such as Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson, BB King, Maroon Five and Jackie Evancho, made famous from America’s Got Talent.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano Thanks TSA Employees; Pistole Says Planned Protests Could Have 'Negative Effect'

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto | Transportation Security Administration(WASHINGTON) -- As the controversy over the Transportation Security Administration's enhanced screening continues, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano sent a message to all TSA employees to personally thank them for their work during the holiday rush.

The message obtained by ABC News that was sent Tuesday afternoon to employees stated, "The threats we face in the aviation sector are real and evolving, and we are meeting them with a strong and dynamic response. Serving on the front lines, you ensure safe and efficient travel for the millions of people who rely on our aviation system every day."

Following the increased public scrutiny the TSA has received in recent days, even getting the attention of a Saturday Night Live skit, Napolitano bucks up the TSA officers and employees, writing in her note, "Time and again, the men and women of TSA have demonstrated poise and professionalism. Travelers and the public realize that your job is difficult and demanding. This holiday season, I am confident you will again demonstrate your commitment to ensuring the safety of the traveling public to everyone who passes through an airport security checkpoint."

In an interview with ABC News, TSA Administrator John Pistole urged the public to build in some more time to their schedule to accommodate security. The TSA chief also expressed his concern about  possible protests, saying, "If I was a traveler I would have significant concerns about it because it’s unpredictable. So I would make sure I get to the airport on time, that I don’t miss my flight," Pistole said. "Our security checkpoints are fully staffed and we’re ready for the normal rush, but if people do opt out in significant numbers it will have a negative effect."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio´╗┐

ABC News Radio