Team Bliss celebrates family, community at holiday tree

Santa leads the way as families make their way to refreshments near Center Chapel One at Fort Bliss Dec. 14, 2017. The Office of the Senior Chaplain held an annual tree lighting and holiday celebration for families. Photos by David Poe, Fort Bliss Garrison Public Affairs.

Santa leads the way as families make their way to refreshments near Center Chapel One at Fort Bliss Dec. 14, 2017. The Office of the Senior Chaplain held an annual tree lighting and holiday celebration for families. Photos by David Poe, Fort Bliss Garrison Public Affairs.

By David Poe, Fort Bliss Garrison Public Affairs:

(El Paso, Texas, January 4, 2018)

West Fort Bliss may be rich with diverse greenspace near the old Pershing Gate, but one tree stood out from the rest this holiday season. As they do every year, the Fort Bliss Senior Chaplain’s office gathered the Fort Bliss community near Center Chapel One for a holiday celebration and Christmas tree lighting, Dec. 15, 2017.

“While we’re a week later than our original date,” Col. Steve Murphy, the Fort Bliss garrison commander and the night’s host, said as he addressed the guests, “this is still a great opportunity for us to come together as a community.” Officials postponed the event for a week due to icy early December weather.

Holiday music from 1st Armored Division Band musicians greeted little kids and big kids alike while they gathered for the formal lighting of the tree and remarks. After it was lighted, it was more music with holiday songs from the Bliss Elementary School choir. Following their performance, guests were invited back to the chaplain’s spaces for refreshments and photos with Santa.

An Army child greets Santa at Fort Bliss Dec. 14, 2017. The Fort Bliss Senior Chaplain team organized a holiday celebration and Christmas tree lighting on West Fort Bliss for troops and family members.

While Fort Bliss’ holiday tree stood out from the rest last month, it also has a story that is all its own. Given to the community chaplain’s office by the Cain family in 1979, the tree was planted in memory of Arlene Cain, an Army family member and respected volunteer and youth leader in the military community and in El Paso. Cain, a student at the University of Texas at El Paso, died suddenly of an acquired disease.   

Maybe inspired by the Cain’s living memory of their young daughter, Murphy used his remarks to remind Team Bliss to engage with family members during the holiday season – no matter which family.

“(Whether it’s) the one we’re born into, the one we marry into, or our Army family, take the time this season to renew the bonds you have with that family,” he said. “It’s easy to get caught up in the hub-bub and activity of the season, but don’t lose sight of your family, your traditions, and make it a memorable holiday season.”