Every year since 1981, the White House Historical Association has designed the official White House Christmas ornament. It is always interesting to learn about the history of each year’s design, and this year’s ornament is particularly special for Alabamians – and especially for those of us who live in the Second District.
This year’s White House Christmas ornament features a helicopter to honor President Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States, who was the first U.S. president to fly in a helicopter while in office. According to the White House Historical Association, the 2019 ornament is meant to symbolize Eisenhower’s commitment to innovation.
After Eisenhower first traveled by helicopter in July of 1957, the helicopter became a feature of White House life. Through the years, the helicopter has often been used for short distance commutes. As the first president to regularly use a helicopter, Eisenhower had two Executive Flight Detachments for his transport, which were provided by flight crews of the Army and the Marine Corps.
Since 1957, Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company that also has an extensive operation in Pike County, has built the presidential helicopter. The 2019 White House ornament honors that special legacy, but it also pays tribute to Army Aviation and Fort Rucker, as Fort Rucker is the location site of the original Army One used by Eisenhower.
The White House Historical Society recently held an event at Fort Rucker to celebrate this historic honor, and I was glad to participate alongside Governor Kay Ivey and other leaders. As Alabamians, we know how special and critically important Fort Rucker and Army Aviation are – not only to the Wiregrass and our state – but to the safety and defense of our nation. It is wonderful and appropriate that the White House has chosen to honor Army Aviation and Fort Rucker in this way. I know my family will certainly display the ornament proudly and treasure it for years to come.
Throughout my time in Congress, I have considered it a privilege and responsibility to represent a district that is home to Fort Rucker, home of the United States Center of Aviation Excellence. I will continue to use the platform I have been given to ensure that Fort Rucker remains a strong component in our national defense infrastructure.
We all should be incredibly proud that President Eisenhower first began using Army helicopters as a mode of presidential transportation. This historic honor by the White House is a true testament to the legacy and continued success of Army Aviation in our country. You can read more about the White House Historical Association and year’s ornament by visiting www.shop.whitehousehistory.org/holidays/ornaments.
Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.