09bragg tree  Evergreens have been a symbol of life since even before the ancient Druids of Stonehenge fame. Early European Christians brought evergreens to their gatherings at Christmas to symbolize the birth of Christ. The tradition of our modern-day Christmas tree is believed to have begun in the 16th century in Germany when people, Martin Luther among them, brought evergreen trees into their homes and decorated them. Today, a brightly decorated Christmas tree has become the focal point for family gatherings. In keeping with Christmas tradition, Fort Bragg ushers in the holiday season with the annual lighting of the garrison Christmas Tree at the Main Post Parade Field Thursday, Nov. 29, from 4:30-7 p.m. 

   Ornaments on early Christmas trees were likely to be gingerbread, apples, sweets and colored paper. Later, decorations evolved as glassmakers crafted glass ornaments similar to those used today. Those early trees were lit by candles, which are still in use throughout much of Europe in modern times. Late in the 19th century, electric lights were first used to illuminate a Christmas tree in a New York City apartment. As electrification spread to homes throughout the U.S. and the U.K., strings of electric tree lights supplanted candles as a much safer way to provide that holiday glow. 

   Each year, a military family from among the Fort Bragg community is honored as the Family of the Year. The family is selected as one who demonstrates exceptional strength, character, service and commitment to both their unit and to the wider community. 

   Fort Bragg’s Family of the Year symbolizes all military families who sacrifice so much in service to our country. The senior commander will introduce the Family of the Year, who will then share the honor of lighting the tree. During this time of traditional holiday celebrations, the Fort Bragg tree-lighting ceremony has become a way of celebrating and honoring these families, many of whom may have family members currently deployed. 

Fort Bragg Mutual Federal Credit Union is the presenting sponsor for the 2018 tree-lighting ceremony and will be represented at the event by President and CEO Todd Kenthack. Gilbert Baez will act as the master of ceremonies. There will be a Kidz Corner and light refreshments while supplies last. 

   Among the highlights of the evening will be a demonstration of a parachute jump by the Golden Knights. The Poole Elementary Chorus will entertain the crowd throughout the evening with renditions of holiday favorites. The evening will be capped off by a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. 

   The event is free and open to the public. The rain date is Nov. 30. Call 910-396-9126 for more information. 

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