Presidents And Christmas – A Trip Down Memory Lane: It’s Christmastime and this episode is a truly a treat. Tune in hear from influential leaders, past and present, as they candidly speak of the real reason for the season!
Air Date: 12/25/2019
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
WB Live 2019 – 12 – 25 a
Rick: I’m Rick Green, former Texas legislator here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor. We’ve got some really cool things we’re going to be sharing with folks today. Guys, and in fact, I don’t if we should tell them all of them that we’re going to be airing today. But let’s just say some interesting folks are going to be saying merry Christmas.
Tim: Yeah, interesting could be appropriate. It might be fun actually just to do some vocal recognition. If you could play these sound bite and see who would recognize the voices.
David: That’s a good idea. Let’s do that. We’ll play the sound bites and see if you can recognize who it is. That would be great. So, Justin, let’s roll the first one. Here’s the sound. We’ll tell you, it’s a US president and this…
Tim: Well, now you’ve made it a lot easier because there’s only 45 options.
David: Yes, there’s only 45.
Tim: Actually, less than 45 because I don’t think George Washington has a vocal recording we can go to.
Rick: We don’t have a vocal recording of Washington? Come on.
David: I know. Go to Youtube and you can see his inaugural address…Maybe not
Tim: I don’t think he made it, no. But certainly, Merry Christmas from all us here at WallBuilders and some presidents also who had some pretty strong Christmas messages while they were in the white house and we thought this would be a very appropriate way as we talk about the real reason for the season, right? The meaning behind Christmas, as we talk about Jesus. Today there is this thought that you can’t have that from politicians, you can’t have that in government.
Presidential Christmas Messages
But that’s just not a position that most presidents of our nation have taken. And so, we have just pulled a few clips where you can hear presidents talking about the Christmas message and what Christmas is and then actually, during their time as presidents, challenging the nation to remember Christmas and what it was all about. And so, we are going to start with one of these presidents and see if we recognize who it is. So here is your first clip.
Presenter: We present now, a special transcribed Christmas message from the president of the United States to the American people.
Sound bite: My fellow countrymen all over our country and many other parts of the world, men, women, and children are preparing to celebrate the birthday of Christ. Never before in our lives had a Christmas seemed so important. I’m not thinking of turkey dinners and stacks of gifts. I mean the quiet, reverend celebration of faith, hope, and love born in a manger in Bethlehem.
Across all the continents of this world, peace-loving people today feel apprehension and loneliness and fear. Many have forgotten the humble surroundings of the nativity and how the most a straw littered stable shown a light which for nearly 20 centuries, has given men strength, comfort and peace, peace of mind. At this Christmas time, we should renew our faith in God. We celebrate the hour in which God came to man. It is fitting that we should turn to him.
Many of us are fortunate enough to celebrate Christmas at our own fireside. But there are many others who are away from their homes and loved ones on this day. Thousands of our brothers are in the cold and dry battlefield of Korea. But all of us at home, at war, wherever we may be, are within reach of God’s love and power. We can all pray.
All of us should pray. We should ask the fulfillment of God’s will. We should ask for courage, for wisdom, for the quietness of the soul which comes along to them who place their lives in his hands. We should pray for a peace which is based on righteousness. The nation already is in the midst of a crusade of prayer. On the last Sunday of the old year, there will be special services devote to a revival faith in God. I call upon all of you to enlist in this common call. I call upon you no matter what your allegiance may be. We’re joined in the fight against the tyranny of communism.
Communism is Godless. Democracy is the foundation of faith. Faith in oneself, faith in one’s neighbors, faith in God. Democracy’s most powerful weapon is not a gun, a tank or a bomb, it is faith. Faith in the brotherhood and the dignity of men under God. Let us pray at this Christmas time for the wisdom, the humility and the courage to courage to carry on in this faith.
David: All right. So, there is a Christmas message from a president and it is who?
Rick: Well, there are some good contextual clues in there because Korean war and our brothers are at war. So, the Korean war happened shortly after World War II and so for the listeners thinking right, FDR is gone, Trueman takes over after FDR so Trueman would be that guy.
David: 1950 Christmas address by Harry Trueman and he did not back away from a very clear proclamation. I thought Senator Osteen said the nation is praying for revival and that there is going to be churches gathered all over the nation there the first week of the year praying for revival. I mean, how good is that?
Rick: And hope for the people because of the gospel message which the same thing is true today, right? For people listening, this is absolutely true for us in our life and although we are sure that we try to look back and we talk about America’s history and heroes. We try to emphasize the constitution and the religious and moral values on which our nation was founded. We would be amiss to not point out that no, the gospel message is what this is all about and helping people come to know the God who sent his son which is where we get the gospel message and there is an opportunity for peace and hope for all listening.
Tim: I love the fact also that he pointed out, you know, communism is Godless. He even used Christmas as an opportunity to point to the difference in how our government is formed versus communist countries.
David: We are going to jump forward eight years. And in eight years, 1958, the president now is Dwight Eisenhower and Dwight Eisenhower is the first man to have his voice broadcast over satellite and it was broadcast on Christmas night with Christmas gradients. We are not going to play that but 10 years after that, is a major broadcast that came from out of pace, Apollo 8. They were orbiting the moon. They were getting ready for Robert Hart with Apollo 11 when they walked on the moon. So as they are orbiting the moon, you have three astronauts, Bill Anders, Jim Lovel, and Frank Borman and they recited Genesis 1:1-10. They read that back to Americans on Christmas night. So, here is out-of-space, 1968 Apollo-8.
Astronaut 1: We are now approaching a little sunrise and for all the people back on earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send to you. In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth and the earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters and God said, Let there be light and there was light. And God saw the light that it was good. God divided the light from the darkness.
God Created the Heavens and the Earth
Astronaut 2: And God called the light day and the darkness he called night. And the evening and the morning was the first day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
Astronaut 1: And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called He seas: and God saw that it was good.
And from here Apollo-8, we call for a good night, good luck and Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you, all of you on the good earth.
David: And the pause you heard between the readers was each of the astronauts was passing the King James Bible to the next astronaut and that takes a little while when you’re kind of weightless and kind of floating around upside down so that’s what the pause was between the radars. But that was Christmas eve night of 1968.
Rick: David and Tim, who is our… Are we going to tell who it is or are we going to play and see if we can figure it out?
Ronald Reagan’s First Christmas
David: Well, for this generation, there is a whole lot of people who are not Millenials who would recognize this voice. Maybe some Millenials as well but this is a very recognizable voice. We can say it was a Hollywood actor who became a president. He was an A-list actor and it was President Ronald Reagan. This is his first Christmas. This is 1981, his first year as president.
Ronald Reagan: Good evening. At Christmas time, every home takes on a special duty, as special warmth and that’s certainly true with the white house where so many famous Americans have spent their Christmases over the years. This final home, the people’s house seems so much, been so much a part of all our lives and history. It’s been humbling and inspiring for Nancy and me to be spending our first Christmas in this place. We’ve lived here as your tenants for almost a year now and what a year it’s been.
As a people, we’ve been through quite a lot, moments of joy, tragedy and of real achievement, moments that I believe have got us all closer together. G.K. Chesterton once said that the would never starve for wonders but only for the want of wonder. At this special time of the year, we all renew our sense of wonder in recalling the story of the first Christmas in Bethlehem nearly 2000 years ago.
Americans and Christmas
Some celebrate Christmas as the birthday of a great and good philosopher and a teacher. Others of us believe in the divinity of the child born in Bethlehem that he was and is the promised prince of peace. Yes, we’ve questioned why he who could perform miracles chose to come among us as a helpless babe but maybe that was his first miracle, his first great lesson that we should learn to care for one another.
Tonight, in millions of American homes, the glow of the Christmas trees is a reflection of the love Jesus brought us. Like the shepherds and the wise men of that first Christmas, we Americans have always tried to follow higher light; a star if you will. At the lonely campfire bridges along the frontier in the darkest days of the great depression through war and peace, between beacons of faith and freedom have brightened the American sky.
At times, our footsteps may have faltered but trusting in God’s help, we’ve never lost our way. Just across the way from the white house, stand the two great emblems of the holiday season, a Menorah, symbolizing the Jewish festival of Hanukkah and the national Christmas tree, a beautiful towering blue spruce from Pennsylvania.
Like the national Christmas tree, our country is a living, growing thing planted in rich American soil. Only our devoted care can bring it to full flower. So let this holiday season be for us, a time of rededication.
Rick: David, you were right about recognizable, maybe the most recognizable presidential voice. Still sounds…Makes me miss Reagan every time I listen but certainly when he is pointing out the reason for the season for us.
God-Centered Reagan Addresses
David: Hey. Does it make you feel old if I tell you that 41% of voters today did not live through any part of Ronald Reagan?
Rick: I thought the answer to the question was going to be yes as soon as soon as you said, “Does it make you feel old?” I didn’t have to hear the rest of the question but yes, no doubt. 41%, wow.
David: Yeah, 41%. But you know, again, there is a president who is very outspoken, did not back up at all from acknowledging the Christian faith and particularly on Christmas holiday. I mean, he himself was an open professing Christian. He was very God-centered in so many of his addresses but there you have an indication of the strength of his conviction and that Christmas address from 1981.
Rick: All right. A quick break, guys. We’ll be back with more. We’ve got special messages for you here on Christmas Day. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
America’s Hidden History
David: Hi. This is David Barton.
Tim: And this is Tim Barton and we want to let you know about a series that’s happening now on TBN on Thursday night. TBN is the Trinity Broadcasting Network. Every Thursday night, there is a series that we filmed called America’s hidden history and this season, it’s called America’s Hidden Heroes. The reason is we highlight heroes from American history. For years, we’ve been focusing on the forgotten history and heroes of the nation and now we have a TV show just highlighting some of those heroes.
David: These are inspiring stories about some of the greatest people maybe you’ve never heard about. We go on location, we go to the site. We show you where the events happened and it’s a story of folks like Branco Charlie and Stagecoach, Mary, Jedidiah Smith, Robert Smalls, and so many inspiring folks.
Tim: This happens every Thursday night and the time is going to be different based on where you live. Either way, we think this is something that will so encourage and inspire you into learning some of these great stories from America’s hidden history.
The Bible in Space
Rick: We are back on WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us on this very special Christmas day, bringing you some special messages. So far, we’ve had two presidents that have addressed Christmas and even some astronauts. And, of course, David, you pointed this out earlier in the program, but how cool that the astronauts were reading from the Bible and pretty much the entire nation was tuning in to hear that on Christmas day.
David: Yes. That was the culture of the day. I mean, it is just, there was no reason to run from our faith, to shy from our faith. And by the way, they are reading from the Bible. Magdalene Murray O’Hair, the famous atheist file a number of lawsuits over that and lost every single one of them in court. She tried the Supreme Court, she tried district court, she tried the fifth circuit court of appeals.
And actually, on Apollo-11, an astronaut, I think it was Jim Lovel when he got out on the moon, actually had communion on the moon. So you’re talking the first lunar walk and had communion on the moon and also had Bible reading on the moon as well and she sued for that as well but didn’t get anywhere. So, how different is the culture of even earlier generation? I mean, you were alive at that time, I was alive at that time and how different is that compared to what we are today? And so, it really is striking. We are going to go back a year ago. We listened to President Reagan’s first Christmas address. Now, here is President Trump’s first Christmas address and it also is strikingly overt in acknowledging Christ and Christmas and the reason for Christmas.
Trump’s Christmas Address
Donald Trump: Today is a day that I’ve been looking very much forward to all year long. It’s one that we have heard and we speak about and we dream about and now as the president of the United States, it’s my tremendous honor to finally wish America and the world a very merry Christmas. I want to thank everyone who has come together here right in front of the white house, the beautiful, beautiful white house and everyone watching from home to see the lighting of this incredible national Christmas tree.
For nearly century, through good times and bad, every president who’s taken part in this wonderful tradition first started by president Coolidge but I was informed tonight that the weather we have is the best there’s been in 25 years. In fact, I said, “Is it always like this?” The secretary said, “It hasn’t been like this for a very long time,” so we are very lucky.
Finally, in 1870, president Ulysses S Grant signed legislation making Christmas a federal holiday, and I sort of feel we are doing that again. That’s what’s happening. From the earliest days of our nation, Americans have known Christmas as a time for prayer and worship, for gratitude and goodwill, for peace and renewal.
Melania and I are full of joy at the strike of this very blessed season. We are thrilled to think of the people across the nation and all across the continent whose spirits are lifted by the miracle of Christmas. For Christians, this is a holy season, the celebration of the birth of our lord and savior, Jesus Christ.
God’s Gift of Love
The Christmas story begins 2000 years ago with a mother, a father, their baby son, and the most extraordinary gift of all, the gift of God’s love for all of humanity. Whatever our beliefs, we know that the birth of Jesus Christ and the story of his incredible life forever changed the course of human history.
There is hardly an aspect of our lives today that his life has not touched: art, music, culture, law, and our respect for the sacred dignity of every person everywhere in the world. Each and every year, at Christmas time, we recognize that the real spirit of Christmas is not what we have, it’s about who we are. Each one of us is a child of God. That is the true source of joy this time of the year.
David: Well, it’s surprising to say the least, from what we thought we may get with this president to what we have gotten with the Christmas messages, with the battles he’s been willing to take on. And it’s important to have a p[resident that speaks like that about this most important holiday and the example that sets for other countries. That’s pretty cool. So it sounded Reagan S. Consley.
Rick: It did sound Reagan S. And speaking of Reagan S, here is President Reagan’s 1983 Christmas address and it too is very open, very faithful, he held a very good address.
President Reagan’s 1983 Christmas Address
Reagan: My fellow Americans, like so many of your homes, the white house is brimming with green, colorful decorations and a tree, trained 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. I Just wanted to fill the air with the spirit of love, hope, and joy from the heart of America.
I shared this spirit recently with a young girl named Amy Benam, who helped me light our national tree. Amy had said that the tree that lights up our country must be seen all the way to heaven and she said that her wish was to help me turn on its lights. Amy’s wish came true but the greatest gift was mine because I saw her eyes light up with hope and joy just as brightly as the lights on our national tree and I’m sure they were both seen all the way to heaven and they made the angels sing.
Christmas is a time for children and rightly so. We celebrate the birthday of the prince of peace who came as a babe in a manger. Some celebrate Christmas as the birthday of a great teacher and philosopher but to other millions of us, Jesus is much more. He is divine, living assurance that God so loved the world, he gave us his only begotten so that by believing in him and learning to love each other, we could one day be together in paradise.
It’s been said that all the kings who ever reigned, that all the parliaments that ever sat have not done as much to advance the course of peace on earth and goodwill to men as the man from Galilee, Jesus of Nazareth.
A Time to Remember
Christmas is also a time to remember the treasures of our own history. We remember one Christmas in particular, 1776, our first 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 rugged soldiers across the Delaware River through driving snow to a victory that saved the caurse of independence. It’s said that their route of match 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 will join together in carolling parties and Christmas eve services. Together, we 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. Is the Christmas spirit still alive? Some may ask. Well, you bet it is.
Being Americans, we open our hearts to neighbors less fortunate. We try to protest them from hunger and cold and we reach out in so many ways, from Toys for Tats drives across the country to goodwill by the Salvation Army, to American Red Cross efforts which provide food, shelter and Christmas cheer from Atlanta to Seattle.
Let Us Remember
Churches are so generous, it’s impossible to keep track. One example, Reverend Bill Singles, Presbyterian meeting house in nearby Alexandria, Virginia is simultaneously sponsoring hot meals on wheels programs, making and delivering hundreds of sandwiches and box loads of clothes while visiting local hospitals and sending postcards to shadings and religious citizens abroad.
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 committed crime but because they loved 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 outpost in Alaska and the Korean military zone to the shores of Lebanon. One Lebanese mother told us that her little girl had only attended school two 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 strifed one region and make our own lives more secure. The Christmas spirit of peace, hope and love is a 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.
Rick: Well, guys we’re almost out of time but I think we have a final, not president, but a final merry Christmas.
David: We do have a final merry Christmas and it actually goes back to 1843, Charles Dickens when he wrote a Christmas carol and, you know, there’s been many versions of that done over the years. I think my favorite version of the Christmas carol is the one of Alice Thompsons. I cry when I see it. It’s so good. But that was a Christ-centered message that they had and particularly when you read. Hollywood has made it less Christ-centered. But as you actually read the story, Charles Dickens was an overt Christian, outspoken about his faith and it was very evident in the Christmas carol. So, we want to close with the Last section of the Alastair Sim movie, A Christmas Carol.
Sound byte: He became as good as a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as a good old city knew, or any other good old city, town,or borough in the good old world. And the tiny Tim who lived in Dock Welligan, he become a second child. And it was always said that he knew how to keep Christmas well and if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us and all of us. And so tiny Tim observed, God bless us, everyone.
Presidents And Christmas – A Trip Down Memory Lane
Rick: Well, merry Christmas from all of us here at WallBuilders to all of you our listeners. Thank you for your support. Thank you for listening and have a merry, merry Christmas.