In 1961, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy founded the White House Historical Association as a private, nonprofit organization with a mission to protect, preserve, and provide public access to the rich history of America’s Executive Mansion. Today, the Association’s acquisition, preservation, research, and education efforts continue through generous private donations and the sale of its books and products. The Association’s signature gift, the Official White House Christmas Ornament, was started by First Lady Nancy Reagan to provide ongoing support for the Association’s mission while bringing White House history into homes across the country during the holidays. Collecting and sharing these unique ornaments has since become a holiday tradition for millions of Americans.
This year, The White House Historical Association’s Official 2021 White House Christmas Ornament commemorates the presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson. One side of the ornament features a painting of the 1967 Blue Room Christmas Tree. Mrs. Johnson requested that Robert H. Laessig, a designer for American Greetings, paint the official Christmas tree in the Blue Room for their card that year. The 1967 White House Christmas card was sent out by President and Mrs. Johnson to White House staff members, family, and friends.
On the other side of the ornament, there is a quote from President Johnson. It reads, “Our mission is at once the oldest and the most basic of this country: to right wrong, to do justice, to serve man.” The president spoke these words to a joint session of Congress on March 15, 1965, calling on legislators to support a bill that would protect the right to vote and outlaw discriminatory measures that prevented African Americans from voting. Johnson’s speech was a response to the violence in Selma, Alabama, where Civil Rights activists were attacked by law enforcement and counter protesters while crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The speech was later remembered by its most famous line, “We Shall Overcome.”
The flowers encircling the quote are inspired by Lady Bird Johnson’s beautification programs on the White House Grounds and throughout Washington, D.C. They are Texas bluebonnets – a favorite of Mrs. Johnson and the official state flower of Texas.
The Official White House Christmas Ornament is an opportunity to share the traditions and stories of the Executive Mansion and support the White House Historical Association’s nonprofit, nonpartisan mission to protect, preserve, and provide public access to the People’s House. Visit Shop.WhiteHouseHistory.Org to join the tradition!
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