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Let there be light

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace
  • 436th AW Public Affairs
In the spirit of the holiday season, Team Dover hosted a menorah dedication followed by a Christmas tree lighting ceremony Tuesday at the Dover Air Force Base Main Gate.

Members of the Dover Team and the local community met at 5 p.m. to "bring light" and officially kick off Dover AFB's holiday season.

Col. Steven Harrison, 436th Airlift Wing commander, initiated the night's festivities, which were open for any DoD identification holder, family member and their guests.

The colonel opened by dedicating the menorah as Maj. Aaron Bilow, 436th Medical Support Squadron pharmacy services chief and Jewish Lay Leader for the base, lead the Hanukkah service, which included a choir from Congregation Beth Shalom in Dover.

Following the Hanukkah service, Colonel Harrison lit the Christmas tree along side a few special guests.

Lighting the tree with Colonel Harrison was Samantha, wife of Master Sgt. Rudy Owen, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron, who recently left for a deployment to Iraq, and his two sons.

In a manner that may have made Santa's own elves green with envy, Sergeant Owen's children, Corban and Connor, lit Christmas for Team Dover as they threw the switch which lit the tree.

As they were lighting the base's tree and helping to lift spirits here, their dad was enroute to Iraq.

"I can appreciate what all the military members and spouses go through on a regular basis," said Mrs. Owen. "Rudy is missing seeing his boys' eyes light up Christmas morning. Those are the moments you can't get back."

Still, Mrs. Owen expressed her understanding of the necessity of her husband's deployment and supports him entirely.

"The boys are proud of their daddy," she said.

The Owen children were not the only children present for the event.

As the tree's glow illuminated the intersection of Main Gate Boulevard, a children's choir from Welch Elementary School performed holiday songs.

Soon thereafter, another set of lights moved closer as a fire truck headed down the street toward the celebration. As the truck drew near, it became evident Mr. Christmas himself, Santa Claus, was riding on back of the truck.

With Santa's appearance, smiles from the attending children could be seen in every direction. It was evident Tuesday that the children of Team Dover are ready for this year's holiday season.

"Sunday was the first day of Advent for the Christian community," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Ronald Harvell, 436th AW chief chaplain. "Sundown Tuesday marked the beginning of Hanukkah and at 5 p.m. we lit our base's Menorah."

Like America and its diversity, the holiday season is also about celebrating diverse holidays of all different religions, he said.

"Both (Hanukkah and Christmas) are about holiness, sacrifice and light," said Chaplain Harvell. "They are about God's intervention into the lives of His creation for the sake of His creation. (The days) are festive and are about joy and love!"


Diversity through the holidays

In addition to Christmas and Hanukkah, many other holidays are celebrated in December. Here are a few of those celebrated:

Dec. 2
First Sunday of Advent

Religion: Christianity, based on belief that salvation comes through Jesus Christ, son of God, and the teachings of the Holy Scripture, the Bible. Major groups include Roman Catholic, Protestants and Eastern Orthodox.
Celebrates: The first day of a four-week period preparing for the celebration of Christmas.

Dec. 4
First lighting for the Hanukkah candles

Religion: Judaism, based on a belief in one God and the moral, social teachings of the Torah, the five books of Moses
Celebrates: Marks the miraculous rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Jewish victory over the forces of Hellenistic assimilation in 1665 B.C. The Festival of Lights focuses on rededication to faith.

Dec. 6
St. Nicholas Day

Religion: Roman Catholic
Celebrates: Fourth century bishop, the patron saint of children, who is the historical influence for Santa Claus.

Dec. 8
Bodhi Day

Religion: Buddhism, founded in India, based on the idea that existence is a continuing cycle of death and rebirth.
Celebrates: Anniversary of the enlightenment of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, circa 596 B.C.

Dec. 12
Masa'il

Religion: Bahai, founded in 1863 in Iran, based on the belief that God sent messengers to teach eternal moral truths. Among them Abraham, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Mohammed and the Baha Ullah.
Celebrates: In the 19-month Bahai year, each month represents an attribute of God. Masa'il, signifying contemplation, is Dec. 15.

Dec. 21
Yule

Religion: Wicca, based on folk rites and pagan witchcraft, celebrating the natural world and seasonal cycles.
Celebrates: Winter solstice, darkness and the longest night as well as the rebirth of the sun.

Dec. 22
Grand Ceremony of Winter Solstice
Religion: Shinto, the oldest-surviving religion of Japan, based on the worship of many deities who are the basic forces in nature
Celebrates: End of the declining strength of the sun, the yin period, and the beginning of the yang period, when the sun gains strength.

Dec. 25
Christmas

Religion: Christianity
Celebrates: The birth of the Christ child, the promise of salvation and a future peace on Earth through a religion created after Jesus' death by His followers.

Dec. 26
First evening of Kwanzaa

Religion: Interfaith
Celebrates: African-American family values and traditions are highlighted each night during the seven-day festival. Kwanzaa means "first fruits of harvest" in Swahili.