LIVORNO, Italy - The traditional Camp Darby Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony was held Dec. 5, in an atmosphere filled with enthusiasm, joy and participation.

Annually, since Christmas 2001, following the attacks of Sept. 11, the silver fir Christmas tree is donated by the province of Pistoia as a sign of friendship and solidarity.

"This year's holiday is particularly pleasing for me because it occurs after an epoch-making event, which represents hope for the future not only for your country, but also for the entire world," said Nicola Risaliti, Pistoia Province tourist consular. "I am referring to the recent elections of Barack Obama as the President of the United States of America."

Lt. Col. Stephen Cade, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Livorno, welcomed guests to the ceremony by wishing them happy holidays, and thanking the Pistoia community for the "gracious donation" and for their long-term friendship.

"We in the American community of Camp Darby are truly blessed to be in this beautiful country, surrounded by our good friends and allies," said Cade. "This tree represents goodwill and we are committed to being worthy of it."

Col. Raffaele Iubini, Camp Darby Italian base commander added: "This tradition is the cement of friendship."

"This time during the holidays," Iubini added, "is particularly special and it brings together our two communities, highlighting, through the children's presence, a sense of peaceful living together, of shared welfare, and innocence (that) is typical of the youngsters."