Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie
2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)
CAMP STRIKER, Iraq — In a city where most residents must use candlelight because they have no power, Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI) celebrated Christmas by candlelight.
Soldiers of the 2nd BCT and the local community gathered in the 2nd BCT chapel for a Community Candlelight Service Dec. 24 here.
The service was opened with an invocation then members of the choir led the audience in Christmas carols.
“It was encouraging to take a break from everything and gather with the other believers to celebrate Christmas,” said Capt. Scott Carow, a 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI), physical therapist and native of Tampa, Fla.
Carow, a member of the choir, played the guitar and sang during the service.
Although the Soldiers were unable to be with their families on Christmas, the service offered warmth of the season.
“The service made me feel like I was at home,” said Pfc. Shana Keenan, a 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) intelligence analyst and native of Steubenville, Ohio. “At home we do this (attend candlelight services) every year,” Keenan said as she recalled memories from home.
While some Soldiers attended the service as part of a home-away-from-home tradition, others rejoiced for the first time.
“This is something different for me,” said Sgt. Brendaliz Morales, a 2nd BSTB intelligence analyst and native of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., as she recalled her Christmas family traditions. “My family would get together and stay up until midnight then open presents,” she said. “But the service allowed me to be with my family here.”
Throughout the ceremony Soldiers united with each other as they lit candles.
“To me, the candlelight service is way of calming down the hustle and bustle of the season and bringing things back to the real meaning,” said Spc. Jenna Maravillas, an information systems operator with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) and native of Lake In The Hills, Ill., as she recalled going to candlelight services since she was a child. “It was nice to see so many people show up to take time to remember the real meaning of Christmas.”