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Phoenician Diane Cole and first lady Michelle Obama at the White House


The White House, Washington, D.C.

In the spirit of the White House’s chosen holiday theme for 2013, “Gather Around,” first lady Michelle Obama hosted military families for the first viewing of the decked halls to honor the service of all U.S. military members and to treat the children to holiday crafts and tasty seasonal goodies. In the bedecked East Room, those in attendance did indeed “gather around” to hear remarks by the first lady. After being introduced by Diane Cole of Phoenix, Obama hugged Cole to thank her for the introduction and her role in the beautiful decor—a moment captured perfectly by photographer Alex Wong. The mother of a son in active duty, Cole, along with more than 80 volunteers—many of them military spouses—from all over the country, helped decorate the White House starting the day after Thanksgiving. This tree in the Estate Room was just one of 24 decorated trees on display at the White House, and the White House saw some 70,000 visitors during the 2013 holiday season.