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Chapel 1 kicks off JBA holiday season

Chaplain (Capt.) Anthony R. Wade, 11th Wing Senior Protestant chaplain, and Col. William M. Knight, 11th Wing commander (far left), lower the candy cane to light the Christmas tree and Menorah during the annual ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Nov. 26, 2013. The annual event brings people together, regardless of religious preference, to celebrate the holidays. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ryan J. Sonnier)

Chaplain (Capt.) Anthony R. Wade, 11th Wing Senior Protestant chaplain, and Col. William M. Knight, 11th Wing commander (far left), lower the candy cane to light the Christmas tree and Menorah during the annual ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Nov. 26, 2013. The annual event brings people together, regardless of religious preference, to celebrate the holidays. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ryan J. Sonnier)

Capt. Aaron Reynolds, 11th Wing Protestant chaplain, speaks about the significance of the Christmas tree during the annual Christmas tree and Menorah lighting ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Nov. 26, 2013. The base Christmas tree as well as the Menorah was lit to recognize the beginning of the holiday season. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ryan J. Sonnier)

Capt. Aaron Reynolds, 11th Wing Protestant chaplain, speaks about the significance of the Christmas tree during the annual Christmas tree and Menorah lighting ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Nov. 26, 2013. The base Christmas tree as well as the Menorah was lit to recognize the beginning of the holiday season. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ryan J. Sonnier)

Members of the United States Air Force Band perform holiday music for the crowd during the annual Christmas tree and Menorah lighting ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Nov. 26, 2013. The ceremony brought people of different faiths together to celebrate the holidays. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ryan J. Sonnier)

Members of the United States Air Force Band perform holiday music for the crowd during the annual Christmas tree and Menorah lighting ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Nov. 26, 2013. The ceremony brought people of different faiths together to celebrate the holidays. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ryan J. Sonnier)

Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus surprise the audience during the Christmas tree and Menorah lighting ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Nov. 26, 2013. Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus spent time with the families and gave everyone an opportunity to take pictures with them throughout the night. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ryan J. Sonnier)

Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus surprise the audience during the Christmas tree and Menorah lighting ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Nov. 26, 2013. Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus spent time with the families and gave everyone an opportunity to take pictures with them throughout the night. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ryan J. Sonnier)

Capt. Chase Gunnell, 11th Wing Assistant Staff Judge Advocate, and his family pose for a photo with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus during the annual Christmas tree and Menorah lighting ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Nov. 26, 2013. During the night children were given the chance to talk to Santa and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ryan J. Sonnier)

Capt. Chase Gunnell, 11th Wing Assistant Staff Judge Advocate, and his family pose for a photo with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus during the annual Christmas tree and Menorah lighting ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Nov. 26, 2013. During the night children were given the chance to talk to Santa and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ryan J. Sonnier)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- People of different faiths gathered to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season with the Christmas tree and Menorah lighting ceremony here Nov. 26.

The Christmas lighting celebrates the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, said Chaplain (Capt.) Aaron D. Reynolds, 11th Wing Protestant chaplain.

"In very ancient times, evergreen trees like this were considered a symbol of eternal life," said Reynolds. "Perhaps that symbolism is why it was adopted as a Christian symbol commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ."

That is just one of the many different stories to the origin of the Christmas tree and its meaning.

The Menorah lighting celebrates Chanukah, the commemoration of the Jewish victory over the Greek Hellenists around 175 B.C., said Chaplain Rabbi (Maj.) Raphael N. Berdugo, 11th Wing Jewish chaplain.

"As a result, the Jews were free once again to practice their religion; the Temple was liberated and rededicated. The Temple was cleansed and purified because it had been defiled by the Greeks, a new altar was built and new holy vessels had to be crafted," said Berdugo. "Olive oil was needed for the Menorah in the Temple but only one bottle was found whose seal was intact which contained enough pure undefiled olive oil to burn for one day. Miraculously, it burned for eight days - the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil."

According to Berdugo, having a Menorah and Christmas tree lighting ceremony on a military installation is so appropriate, as it reminds us so eloquently of what we are fighting for; the freedom of religion.