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White House Invites All To 'Gather Around' A Holiday Tradition

Every year, on the day after Thanksgiving, almost 100 volunteer decorators show up at the White House. They spend the next five days stringing garlands and hanging ornaments, making the White House sparkle for the holidays.

At NPR, we have a related tradition. This is the fourth year in a row that White House correspondent Ari Shapiro has brought us the voices of some of those volunteers.

In a few weeks he will fly to London and become our newest international correspondent. Before he does, let's take one last tour through the White House Christmas decorations.

A Gold Star Volunteer Brings Memories Of Her Son

Ari Shapiro / NPR

Volunteer Mary Byers became a Gold Star Mother after she lost her son, Capt. Josh Byers, to an IED in Iraq. She came from Nashville, Tenn., to decorate the White House on the 10-year anniversary of his death.

"It's amazing. It's been an honor to be able to be a part of this," she says. "When I arrived to begin, I didn't know I would be assigned to the Gold Star tree, and chills went all over me when I was first told."

The tree is all patriotic, she says, "Red, white and blue. We've got little ornaments representing each branch of the military, and then families get to come in and make their ornament with their fallen hero's name."

This year, one of those ornaments bears her son's name.

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Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.