By Geneva Sands - 12/02/11 02:07 PM EST
President Obama called on the nation to reach out to people in need of work and give thanks to military families during the holiday season.
He made his remarks at the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony Thursday night.
Obama was joined by first lady Michelle Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha and "grandmother in chief Marian" to light the tree.
"This year is a special one. This year, we have a brand-new tree. The last one stood here for more than 30 years, until we lost it in a storm earlier this year. But we all know that this tradition is much larger than any single tree. And tonight, once again, we gather here not simply to light some decorations, but to honor a story that lights the world," said Obama.
This was the 89th holiday tree-lighting ceremony, which began in 1923 with President Calvin Coolidge, according to The Associated Press.