Germans, Americans light communal Christmas tree

by 2nd Lt. Kay M. Nissen
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Christmas trees on both Ramstein and Vogelweh were ceremonially lit by members of 86th Airlift Wing leadership and neighboring German town leadership Nov. 28 and 29.

Brig. Gen. C.K. Hyde, 86th AW commander, gave remarks at the Vogelweh ceremony, while Col. Kenneth Bibb, 86th AW vice commander, and Klaus Layes, mayor of Ramstein, gave remarks at Ramstein.

Bibb spoke about the common bond between the German and American cultures which appears through celebrations of the holiday season.

This tree not only represents our common goals and common traditions, it represents the common values that we share — freedom and respect for human dignity and following our hearts to worship as we choose, he said as he gave season’s greetings.

The U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa bands, Winds Aloft and Five-Star Brass, played seasonal songs with the audience at Ramstein cheerfully singing along to the woodwinds rendition of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”

“Christmas songs and music are a very important part of the holiday season,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Regina Samuel at the Vogelweh ceremony. “They carry a hopeful
message and express the joy of the holiday.”

The Kaiserslautern Elementary School choir, the Vogelweh Gospel Service Youth Praise Dance and Mime Ministries, and the Vogelweh Elementary School Chorus also performed holiday music for the enthusiastic crowds.

“What a wonderful evening for music and singing,” said Layes as he passed on greetings from German neighbors.

All together, more than 680 KMC members attended the ceremonies at Ramstein and Vogelweh. They applauded all the musical performances, showing their appreciation for the event.

“This was a good way to kick off the season. It was nice to hear the children’s choir,” said Jennessa Randall, who attended the Ramstein event with friends. “We’re also here to support the Stanleys.”

The Stanley family, Pam, Arron and Christopher, helped light the Ramstein tree, as representatives of all families who have a deployed member. Tech Sgt. Arron Stanley, a member of the 86th Maintenance Group, is currently deployed to Southwest Asia.

“A lot of these families are away from home. This helps ease the homesick blues. It excited the kids, which helps families — helps mom and dad — feel better in a foreign country,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Scott Foust. “It boosts morale for both active-duty members and families.”