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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, 2: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images caption: 2011 White House Christmas Tree. photo 3: Olivier Livier Douliery/Abacl Press/MCT.)

  • bks

    Oh, so that’s what Bill O’Reilly means when he talks about the War on Christmas.



  • jonst

    Classic chicken hawk stuff

  • bystander

    It would seem that there isn’t anything that can’t be polticized – from human rights to the Geneva Conventions against torture.  Christmas, therefore, is no exception.  But, it would also seem that anything that can be polticized can also be militarized.  Apparently, Christmas is not immune.  Militarizing Christmas trees celebrating the Prince of Peace is just a bit more conflicted than I can resolve, but it is consonant with the oft repeated assertion that the President is our CiC, although it should be as untrue as anything gets; the armed forces maybe, but not citizens.  Were I part of a military family there is no way I’d want either of these trees in my home… but, I wonder if I might not interpret these trees in Obama’s “home” to signify and remind, You are responsible, and should feel the weight of it whenever you pass either tree.  That’s what I might hope, anyway, even if that Hope were never realized.

  • MZim

    My father is unfortunately on the Gold Star Tree and I’m very appreciative that the Obama’s made such a tree.  Your use of “no dead people” lacked tact.  For those of us who have lost someone special it is very important for them to be remembered and an honor for them to be remembered in the White House.  There’s also a digital frame next to the Gold Star Tree that cycles through pictures of the lost soldiers.  Beautiful tribute!

    • Karen H.

      My condolences, MZim, and thank you for posting your view on the tree. It always so much better to get all perspectives, so really I appreciate your posting here.

    • B Kenyon

      Our son’s photo is also on that tree.
      At least someone remembered his sacrifice.
      As you go about your busy lives, I hope you keep all our soldiers
      who have served and are serving this country in your thoughts and prayers.    

  • BJ

    Our sons photo is also on the tree.
    At least someone remembered his sacrifice.
    We hope as you go about your busy lives, you will remember all the soldiers who have served and are serving and keep them close in your thoughts and prayers.

  • Lisa

    I saw Gold Star families decorating the tree and they were very positive about it.  They appreciated the gesture and the chance to get together with other families in the same situation.
    So what’s the problem? (I remember years ago when hostages were being held in Iran.  Many people tied yellow ribbons on their trees, mailboxes etc.  It was a dark time and the hostages were being remembered and honored with hope.  I think it was 1978.  Anyway, I put a yellow calico bow on my tree too. )   Christmas is about memories.  

  • stin

    Those gold stars are signed by family members who are touring the White House and who want to have a star hanging on the tree to honor their memory. There is a table near-by that holds the blank stars and a pen. Nothing disrespectful at all except in the minds of a few Obama haters.

  • Kevin Boyle

    Militarised Christmas trees inside the White House. The arrival of ‘The Prince of Peace’ connected to and stained by violent (and unnecessary) death.

     A giant Menorak, symbol of Orthodox Judaism (i.e. the Pharisees who originated this satanic cult….that’s what Jesus called it, anyway) in front of the White House.

    We are in the age of Anti-Christ. As the influence of the Pharisees magnifies monstrously, the  presence of the God of Love in the corridors of power is reaching an apogee.

    These are dark days indeed, soon to become much darker.

  • Fanta

    i realy do like the white house tree

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