Biden welcomes the national Christmas tree in ceremony | News, sports, jobs

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden helped light the national Christmas tree on Thursday while remembering those lost to the COVID-19 pandemic and crediting the American people for his optimism.

Biden also paid tribute to service members and thanked them for their sacrifices.

“We are a great nation because of you, the American people,” said Biden along with his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, on stage. “You’ve made me so optimistic.”

It was the first time that Biden participated in the almost 100-year-old tradition in the country’s capital. Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, joined Bidens.

Singer-actor LL Cool J hosted the program, which featured performances by Billy Porter, Chris Stapleton, HERE, Kristin Chenoweth, Patti LaBelle and the Howard University Gospel Choir.

The evergreen tree on the Ellipse, just south of the White House, was illuminated in red and white light. It is surrounded by smaller trees representing all U.S. states and territories and the District of Columbia. Students from all over the country made the ornaments that were used to decorate the trees.

The first national Christmas tree lighting was held on Christmas Eve in 1923.

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