With the winter season on its way, active service members in the military and veterans will be recognized at the 13th annual Military Honor Christmas Tree Lighting and Menorah Lighting ceremony at Veterans Historical Plaza on Dec. 1. “We try to keep it going to be fun for Christmas, but still remember our military,” said Prayer Angels for the Military President Suzon Gerstel. The ceremony will open and close with prayers led by Rabbi Mark Blazer. Gerstel said the event will also feature a special guest, Sgt. Tchicaya Missamou. “He’s such a wonderful character,” she said. “He came from seeing the most horrible things and he’s now the best person you’ve ever met.” Missamou grew up in the Republic of the Congo, born ill and became a child soldier before escaping to Belgium, flying to California and becoming a U.S. Marine and fighting in the Iraq War. He’s now the owner of WarriorGo Fitness and a motivational speaker. The tree will be adorned with photos of active duty soldiers away from home for the holidays, of veterans and of service members who have died since Sept. 11, 2001. This will be indicated by blue, white or gold Stars surrounding each photo on the tree. “We have to remember them always,” Gerstel said. “Their parents are so proud of their kids. It’s so nice there’s people out there who want them to be honored.” The ceremony is open to the community, beginning at 5 p.m. Hot cocoa will be offered, and guests can participate in singing Christmas music. To read more about Missamou’s life, check out The Signal’s profiles of him. Read Parts I and II here and here.