The 2019 White House Christmas ornament could have special meaning for many military members or history buffs.
The ornament, announced Tuesday, commemorates both President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the first-ever use of a helicopter by a president.
"This ornament symbolizes President Eisenhower's commitment to innovation. Eisenhower was the first president to fly in a helicopter while in office in July 1957, and thereafter the helicopter became a feature of White House life," the White House Historical Association, which produces the ornament, said in a news release. "It was often used by the president to commute short distances, demonstrating to the public and indeed the world that it was safe."
Eisenhower took his first helicopter flight from the White House lawn to Camp David, Maryland, on July 12, 1957, on a U.S. Air Force Bell H-13J-BF Sioux. The H-13 was replaced in 1958 by the Sikorsky UH-34 Seawolf; in 1961, by the Sikorsky VH-3A Sea King; and later, the VH-3D.
Eisenhower used both Army and Marine Corps pilots to transport him, and the 2019 White House Christmas ornament isn't meant to specifically represent any single helicopter, association officials said in the release.
"One side features the Presidential Seal, representing Eisenhower's two terms as commander in chief of the Armed Forces," according to the release. "On the other side is his five-star rank, honoring his military service as a general in the United States Army."
The ornament is, however, "proudly supported" by Lockheed Martin, which owns Sikorsky, the release notes.
Each year since 1981, the association produces and sells a White House Christmas ornament focused on honoring a specific president or White House anniversary.
Several of the ornaments over the years have depicted aspects of the U.S. military. For example, the 1991 ornament, which commemorates President William Henry Harrison, shows the president in full military dress riding a white charger horse. And both the 1994 and 2010 ornaments depict the U.S. Marine Corps band.
The 2019 White House Christmas ornament is available for purchase on the White House Historical Association website.
-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.