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December 23, 2011

The White House Military Christmas, and Christmas-in-Mourning Trees

Ornament from the Gold Star tree
Ornament from the Gold Star tree

There are two main White House Christmas trees this year, both dedicated to the military. The main tree is in the Blue Room. This “Shine, Give, Share” tree honors “Blue Star” families (those with family members in the service) and celebrates the ways we can lift up those around us. The second — with “memorial ornaments,” as you can see — is the “Gold Star” tree, specifically dedicated to U.S. soldiers who have died in service.

The ornaments for the main tree (no dead people) were done by children at military installations around the world. I assume they didn’t ask those same children to do ornaments for the “Gold Star family tree.” It appears that some of those ornaments on the gold tree were done by the soldiers’ surviving family members.

The Blue Star Tree covered with medals – (click for larger size)

I’m not sure I get the mourning holiday tree. Who decorates a Christmas tree with dead people? It’s so Victorian. And I say this as someone acutely aware of growing up with the threat of losing a father to war. If it had happened, I’m not sure how I’d feel about Kennedy or LBJ or Nixon turning my father into a Christmas ornament. Sometimes, in trying to “get it,” Obama tries too hard.

– Karen Hull

(photo 1: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters caption: Ornaments honoring fallen members of the U.S. military hang on a tree dedicated to Gold Star families during a media tour of the holiday decorations at the White House in Washington, November 30, 2011.photo 2: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images caption: 2011 White House Christmas Tree. photo 3: Olivier Livier Douliery/Abacl Press/MCT.)

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