- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 3, 2015

The 93rd annual lighting of the National Christmas Tree at the White House Thursday night was partly a memorial to the victims of the mass shooting in California, with President Obama saying “their loss is our loss.”

“This is of course the most wonderful time of the year, but we would be remiss not to take a moment to remember our fellow Americans whose hearts are heavy tonight, who grieve for loved ones, especially in San Bernardino, California,” Mr. Obama said at the ceremony on The Ellipse. “They should know that all of us care about them this holiday season. They’re in our thoughts, they’re in our prayers.”

Two assailants killed 14 people Wednesday at a government office in San Bernardino, and were later killed in a shootout with police.

The president also used the occasion to make a subtle call for his plan to accept Syrian refugees, saying Jesus Christ taught the world to “feed the hungry, visit the sick, welcome the stranger.”

“These are the lessons of Jesus Christ, but they’re also the bedrock values of all faiths, values to be cherished and embraced not only during the holidays, but to be practiced in our daily lives,” Mr. Obama said.

Actor Reese Witherspoon, emcee of the holiday event, said “our hearts go out to all the families who’ve endured recent tragedies.”

SEE ALSO: Authorities move toward terrorism as motive in San Bernardino rampage

“We light this tree to send out love and light into this world, and to remind people that we are a wonderful country — a country filled with joy and happiness, compassion and love,” Miss Witherspoon said. “No senseless act of violence can diminish that.”

Mr. Obama was introduced by National Park Service ranger Betty Reid Soskin, 94, the oldest ranger in the service. A tour guide at the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park in California, she said her great-grandmother was born into slavery.

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