By Rodney Jackson, CRDAMC Public Affairs
FORT CAVAZOS, Texas – Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center staff and visitors gathered for its annual tree lighting ceremony Dec. 1.
Col. Garrick Cramer, commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Forker Jr. flipped the switch to light up the hospital’s 20-foot tree that was assembled by hospital staff volunteers, and Copperas Cove High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets.
“Lights during the holidays is an old tradition, whether on a menorah candelabrum or a Christmas tree represent hope,” said Chaplain Jason Unsworth, department of ministry and pastoral care chief. “Light displaces darkness, so today we as community welcome the lights as part of our holiday celebration.”
The volunteer’s setup the 20-foot tree, other smaller trees throughout the hospital and decorated department lobbies and hallways prior to the big day to bring holiday joy to staff and visiting beneficiaries.
Cramer thanked all of the organizers and volunteers for making the event happen, and he also thanked the 1st Cav. Div. quintet for bringing wonderful holiday music to the ceremony.
“The tree before us represents not only the beauty of nature but also the unity and togetherness that this season brings,” said Cramer. “It serves as a simple reminder of the light that shines in each and every one of us.”
This ceremony is not just about the lighting of a tree but about the illumination of our hearts and hope. It is a time to embrace the joy, love and generosity that defines this festive season, he added.
Staff and the cadets laughed together and enjoyed each other’s company setting up the trees and decorations until the task was finished.
A native New Yorker in the Army reserves Staff Sgt. Alexandra Retamozo is deployed to Fort Cavazos in support of CRDAMC for the SRP.
“New York is definitely the home of Christmas as well with snow and lights everywhere, so this definitely gets you into that holiday spirit that we have there,” she said.
The cadets enjoyed the experience and Tayler Stokes, senior and battalion 1st Sgt., has helped CRDAMC decorate for the holiday season the past three consecutive years.
“I get to be involved in the community and meet a lot of new people,” said Mackenzie Naumann, CCHS JROTC Cadet senior and battalion executive officer. “My family isn’t super big on Christmas like they used to be, so this is bringing back the holiday spirit… and it’s really nice to experience it with people that I’m friends with and new people in the community.”
“I personally love this experience,” said Stokes. “I love helping people, so it’s an honor to just be able to come out here to see not only Fort Cavazos, but to help the members of the Army to decorate and talk to them and learn about the Army from them.”