House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) this evening participated in the annual lighting of the United States Capitol Christmas Tree.  Following are Boehner's remarks, as prepared for delivery:

“Thank you, Stephen, and thank you to everyone involved in the selection and safe transport of this beautiful California fir.  It makes a worthy addition to this great Capitol tradition of ours.

“Though winter is upon us, the Christmas tree flourishes as a symbol of everlasting life.  That life and light, of course, is Christ, whose birth to Mary fulfilled a prophecy of joy and salvation.  Out in the fields where the shepherds slept, the angels broke the silence by singing, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, goodwill toward men.’  We best serve this story by serving one another … by showing it is more blessed to give than to receive, especially when so many of our fellow citizens are without jobs and in need.  For Christmas is not a distant historical event.  It is a spirit, always bringing us closer to each other and closer to the peace of which the angels sang.  So on behalf of my wife, Debbie, our two girls, my 11 brothers and sisters, and all the Boehners, I wish one and all a very Merry Christmas.

“Now we’re going to light the tree.  To help do the honors, California has sent one of its most prestigious citizens.  Johnny Crawford isn’t just any seven year old … he’s also a Cub Scout.  So I’m confident if something goes wrong, Johnny will know what to do.  He’s here with his parents, Lisa and Richard, his older brother Ricky, and his little sister Lizzie.  How about a round of applause for Johnny?”

NOTE: At tonight’s ceremony on the West Front Lawn, Speaker Boehner and his wife, Debbie, were joined by Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, former Rep. Tom Coleman of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, members of the California congressional delegation, and seven-year-old Johnny Crawford of Sonora, CA.  This year’s tree, a 65-foot white fir from California's Stanislaus National Forest, is decorated with thousands of ornaments handcrafted by Californians.  The tree will be lit from nightfall until 11 p.m. every evening through January 1, 2012.