This ornament, celebrating President Barack Obama, adorns the Capitol Christmas Tree that was officially lighted on Dec. 6, 2011. (CNSNews.com/Terence P. Jeffrey)
The 63-foot Sierra White Fir lighted at the U.S. Capitol Grounds on Dec. 6 as the official 2011 Capitol Christmas Tree includes a prominently displayed ornament paying homage to President Barack Obama, but includes no ornament readily visible to a person standing near the tree's base that uses the word "Christmas," or includes an image of the Nativity, or bears the name or image of Jesus Christ.
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On the north side of the tree--at a height of about 4 feet and easily visible to people standing near it---there is an ornament that says: "I ♥ President Obama."
When asked whether the tree included any ornaments that mention or depict Christmas or the birth of Jesus, the office of the Architect of the Capitol, which is responsible for the tree, told CNSNews.com that it "does not have a policy nor any restrictions concerning the themes for the ornaments" that go on the tree. The office could not say, however, whether or not this year's Christmas tree does in fact include even a single ornament that directly references or depicts Christmas or Christ.
The office of the Architect of the Capitol also did not directly respond to the question of whether any other elected official--in addition to President Obama--is mentioned on any ornament hung on the tree.
"There may be ornaments like those you describe near the top of the tree, or they could have been obscured or moved due to wind or weather," the architect's office said in a written statement to CNSNews.com.
Each year since 1964, Congress has been decorating a Christmas tree on the Capitol Grounds. Until 1968, the decorated tree was a live tree planted on the Grounds. Since then, the tree has been cut down--usually in a National Forest--and brought to the Capitol from somewhere in the United States. Since 1970, the U.S. Forest Service has been responsible for providing the tree.
Over the years, the Capitol Christmas Tree has come from an irregular rotation of states--including, not exclusively, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Vermont, and California. The state that sends the tree in any given year, according to the Architect of the Capitol, chooses the theme for the ornaments it will bear. People from that state create the ornaments and donate them to the government.
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SOURCE: CNSNews - Terence P. Jeffrey