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Virginia's Gift to the Nation


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A beautifully decorated evergreen tree, with lights ablaze, inspires many warm memories of Christmases past. Many folks view the Christmas tree as the most glorious and best-loved symbol of the Christmas season. Many families have their own special traditions involving the cutting and decorating of the tree.

The story of the origin of the Christmas tree is rich with many legends. One such legend holds that Martin Luther was walking through the forest one Christmas Eve in Germany. As he walked, he was awed by the beauty of millions of stars glimmering through the branches of the evergreen trees. So taken by this beautiful sight, Luther cut a small tree and took it home to his family. To recreate that same starlight beauty he saw in the woods, he placed candles on all its branches.

Many folks were awed last week, when a beautiful 70-foot red spruce was lit on the West Front lawn of our nation's Capitol. Virginia was given the honor of providing the 2004 Capitol Holiday Tree. This is the first time the Capitol Christmas tree has come from Virginia and was cut in the George Washington National Forest in Highland County. This gift to the nation from our Commonwealth showcased the beauty of our natural resources and the spirit of those who call Virginia home.

As America watched, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, with the help of Blayne Braden, a first-grader from Highland County Elementary School in Monterey, threw the switch lighting the 'People's Tree'. With the theme, "From Virginia - Birthplace of Presidents," five thousand ornaments made by hand by thousands of school children from Virginia adorn this magnificent tree.

I was pleased that so many families from the 6th District, and across the state, were able to make the trip to Washington to see the lighting of the tree. Many generous people across the Commonwealth took great pride in this beautiful gift to our nation's Capitol. Any event that brings families together and highlights the generosity reflective of this season of giving is something to be valued and remembered.

As we spend the next several weeks sharing the Holiday Season with our families and friends, we should reflect on the great blessings that God has bestowed upon our nation, and give thanks to our Creator. We should also pause to remember the sacrifices of all of those who make this nation a better place to live - especially those brave men and women who are on the front lines in far away lands, defending our freedoms. I wish them, and all of you, from my family to yours, a joyous Holiday season, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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