Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol dealt with the spirits of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come, but the words of wisdom I bring you here are all from the ghosts of American Presidents Past. The Christmas messages of presidents Coolidge, Roosevelt and Reagan are stirring and still meaningful to us today. Sometimes it helps to reacquaint ourselves with our past in order to better appreciate where we are now and what we hope for tomorrow.
Calvin Coolidge, Presidential message, Dec. 25, 1927
“To the Americans people: Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world.”
Franklin Roosevelt said in his Christmas Message, 1942:
“I say that loving our neighbor as we love ourselves is not enough – that we as a Nation and as individuals will please God best by showing regard for the laws of God. There is no better way of fostering good will toward man than by first fostering good will toward God. If we love Him we will keep His Commandments. In sending Christmas greetings to the armed forces and merchant sailors…we include our pride in their bravery on the fighting fronts…It is significant that Christmas Day our plants and factories will be stilled. That is not true of the other holidays. On all other holidays work goes on- gladly- for the winning of the war. So Christmas becomes the only holiday in all the year. I like to think that this is so because Christmas is a holy day. May all it stands for live and grow throughout the years. Merry Christmas and have a safe and happy holiday season.”
Ronald Reagan Radio Address to the Nation on Christmas December 24, 1983
“My fellow Americans: Like so many of your homes, the White House is brimming with greens, colorful decorations, and a tree trimmed and ready for Christmas day. And when Nancy and I look out from our upstairs windows, we can see the National Christmas Tree standing in majestic beauty. Its lights fill the air with a spirit of love, hope, and joy from the heart of America…Christmas is also a time to remember the treasures of our own history.
We remember one Christmas in particular, 1776, our first year as a nation. The Revolutionary War had been going badly. But George Washington’s faith, courage, and leadership would turn the tide of history our way. On Christmas night he led a band of ragged soldiers across the Delaware River through driving snow to a victory that saved the cause of independence. It’s said that their route of march was stained by bloody footprints, but their spirit never faltered and their will could not be crushed.
The image of George Washington kneeling in prayer in the snow is one of the most famous in American history. He personified a people who knew it was not enough to depend on their own courage and goodness; they must also seek help from God, their Father and Preserver.
In a few hours, families and friends across America will join together in caroling parties and Christmas Eve services. Together, we’ll renew that spirit of faith, peace, and giving which has always marked the character of our people. In our moments of quiet reflection I know we will remember our fellow citizens who may be lonely and in need tonight.
…Let us remember the families who maintain a watch for their missing in action. And, yes, let us remember all those who are persecuted inside the Soviet bloc-not because they commit a crime, but because they love God in their hearts and want the freedom to celebrate Hanukkah or worship the Christ Child.
And because faith for us is not an empty word, we invoke the power of prayer to spread the spirit of peace. We ask protection for our soldiers who are guarding peace tonight-from frigid outposts in Alaska and the Korean demilitarized zone to the shores of Lebanon. One Lebanese mother told us that her little girl had only attended school 2 of the last eight years. Now, she said, because of our presence there her daughter can live a normal life.
With patience and firmness we can help bring peace to that strife-torn region and make our own lives more secure. The Christmas spirit of peace, hope, and love is the spirit Americans carry with them all year round, everywhere we go. As long as we do, we need never be afraid, because trusting in God is the one sure answer to all the problems we face. Till next week, thanks for listening, God bless you, and Merry Christmas.”
My last quote, although not from a president, are words of wisdom never the less. They are true, a bit sad, and worth pondering over. This is from Jay Leno. “The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn’t for any religious reasons. They couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin.”