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Nov 16, 2010 Washington, D.C.

The White House Historical Association celebrates the presidency of William McKinley (1897-1901), the twenty-fifth president of the United States, with the release of its 30th commemorative ornament. The last Civil War veteran to serve as president, McKinley was idolized by the American people during his presidency, tragically cut short by an assassin’s bullets six months into his second term. The ornament reflecting the patriotic mood of the country and McKinley’s love of music, depicts the United States Marine Band performing at the 1900 Army-Navy reception at the President’s House.

“The 2010 ornament continues a tradition of trimming the tree with American history begun by the association in 1981, “ said Neil W. Horstman, president of the White House Historical Association.

William McKinley presided over a return to economic prosperity, but his greatest legacy was his decisive leadership of the nation in the war against Spain over Cuban independence. That victory in the Spanish-American War paved the way for America to enter the new century as an international power.

The White House observance of Christmas was not an official event before the 20th century. First families decorated the house modestly with greens and privately celebrated the yuletide with family and friends. Christmas celebrations at the White House during the McKinley years were quiet gatherings that usually centered around a turkey dinner with the president’s brother and his family. There was little merry-making because of the absence of young children and Mrs. McKinley’s poor health.

Of the previous White House ornaments, 22 honored presidents. The 1989 ornament paid tribute to the bicentennial of the American presidency, and 1992 honored the laying of the White House cornerstone in 1792. The bicentennial of the White House as home of the president was commemorated in 2000. In 2002, the ornament honored the centennial of the restoration of the White House and the building of the West Wing.

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About the white house historical association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the nonprofit, nonpartisan White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $50 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission.

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