THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
The White House Historical Association's Official White House Christmas Ornament 2021 commemorates President Lyndon B Johnson's time in the White House.
The ornament, the latest in a series of annual collectibles, features a painting of the 1967 Blue Room Christmas tree which was was commissioned by the First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, and used on the Johnsons' Christmas card that year. It was painted by Robert H. Laessig, a designer for American Greetings.
The reverse of the ornament quotes President Johnson: “Our mission is at once the oldest and the most basic of this country: to right wrong, to do justice, to serve man.” LBJ spoke these words to a joint session of Congress on March 15, 1965. His speach, a response to the violence in Selma, Alabama, where Civil Rights activists were attacked by law enforcement and counter protesters while crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, called on legislators to support a bill that would protect the right to vote and outlaw discriminatory measures that prevented African Americans from voting.
Every year since 1981, the White House Historical Association (WHHA) has designed and manufactured an Official White House Christmas Ornament that commemorates a President's time in the White House (these are run in sequential order) or a significant White House anniversary.
Lynda Johnson Robb, the eldest daughter of President Johnson and former First Lady of Virginia, said,“Holidays at the White House were always a special time. It was a time that everybody celebrated. We celebrated with the White House staff. We had choirs come in and sing. It was just such a joyous time. The quote that the WHHA has on the back of the Christmas Ornament does reflect what he felt that his mission was, at once the oldest and the most basic of this country.”
Luci Baines Johnson, LBJ's youngest daughter, said, “As president, my father had an unwavering commitment to social justice. It is deeply fitting for his commemoration on this year's Official White House Ornament to feature his historic 1965 remarks to the Congress. For me, it is a very sentimental journey because I had the privilege of a lifetime to witness the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.”
The flowers circling the president's quote are Texas bluebonnets, a favorite of Mrs Johnson and the official state flower of Texas, and they were inspired by Lady Bird Johnson's beautification programs on the White House Grounds and throughout Washington, D.C.
In 1961, the White House Historical Association was established to support First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy's vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion's legacy for generations to come by assisting in the preservation of the state and public rooms, funding acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educating the public on the history of the White House.
This year's ornament costs $24.95 and you can purchase one at shop.whitehousehistory.org