7/24 @ 11:30 AM ET | Speaker Boehner Press Conference - WATCH LIVE HERE

WASHINGTON, DC - House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) this evening participated in the lighting of the 2012 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, a 65-foot Engelmann Spruce from the White River National Forest in Colorado.  Following are Boehner’s brief remarks prior to the lighting of the tree, as prepared for delivery:

“Thank you to everyone involved in this event.  This spruce has traveled many miles to reach this Great Dome, itself a radiant beacon of God's blessings.  At Christmastime, its splendor calls to mind the star of Bethlehem and the chants of the angels announcing a humble birth in a manger.

“The birth of Christ fulfilled a prophecy of salvation, giving a weary world cause to rejoice.  In that spirit, we will bring light to the tree that flourishes as a symbol of everlasting life.  And in turn, this tree will bring light to us, opening our hearts a little more to the needs of our neighbors and the covenants we have made with one another.  For the celebration of Christmas is not merely the recitation of a story that occurred once upon a time.  The real mystery is having that story reborn in our souls, just as the shepherds were stirred by the angels singing, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, goodwill toward men.’

“So with gratitude, I offer you this simple phrase, ‘God bless us, everyone,’ and from my family to yours, Merry Christmas.”