SHAPE Celebrates Malmedy Tree Lighting Ceremony
Lights shine on the newly lit Christmas tree outside SHAPE Headquarters.
MONS, Belgium—Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe celebrated one of its oldest traditions since its move from France to Belgium in 1967 on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017 during the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
The Belgium town of Malmedy gave SHAPE the first Christmas tree as a symbol of gratitude to the United States Armed Forces for the city's liberation during World War II. However, the gift soon became a gift not just to the U.S. personnel at SHAPE, but to the entire SHAPE community for their defence of freedom in Europe.
"Today's Christmas tree lighting marks the official commencement of the holiday season, but it is also the culminating event in our year-long celebration of SHAPE's 50th anniversary in Belgium, ," said Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Curtis M. Scaparrotti. "Since then, allied nations have built a thriving community as thousands of families have made SHAPE their home."
General Scaparrotti and the Mayor of Malmedy Jean-Paul Bastin had the honour of lighting the Christmas tree in front of the SHAPE community.
The SHAPE International Band, together with the Canadian School Choir, performed traditional Christmas songs, and the SHAPE Chaplain gave an invocation and Christmas blessing as part of the ceremony.
The Christmas tree will be illuminated every day until Jan. 2, 2018, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from dusk until 11 p.m. On Christmas Eve, the lights will remain on until dawn on Christmas morning.
Story by SHAPE Public Affairs Office