On Christmas eve, DECEMBER 24, 1492, Columbus' ship, the Santa Maria, ran aground on the island of Haiti. Columbus left 40 men and named the settlement la Navidad, promising to return the next year. He wrote that day to Spain's King and Queen: "In all the world there can be no better or gentler people. Your Highnesses should feel great joy, because presently they will be Christians, and instructed in the good manners of your realms." Also on DECEMBER 24, in the year 1946, lighting the National Christmas Tree, President Truman said: "Our...hopes of future years turn to a little town in the hills of Judea where on a winter's night two thousand years ago the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled. Shepherds keeping watch by night over their flock heard the glad tidings of great joy from the angels of the Lord singing, 'Glory to God in the Highest and on Earth, peace, good will toward men.'" President Truman continued: "If we will accept it, the star of faith will guide us into the place of peace as it did the shepherds on that day of Christ's birth long ago.." Truman concluded: "Through all the centuries, history has vindicated His teaching. In this great country of ours has been demonstrated the fundamental unity of Christianity and democracy."