Photo via Ray Perez

The Peace Light: From Bethlehem to Margraten

On Dec. 30, Post NL01 of Margraten, Netherlands, was given the honor and privilege of participating in the Vredeslicht (Peace Light) event at the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten. The Boy and Girl Scouts of Landgraaf were given the honor of carrying the Peace Light to their chosen location, the American World War II cemetery.

The origin of the Peace Light begins during Advent, when a candle is lit to an eternal burning flame, originating from the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The Peace Light is meant to promote peace, harmony and unity among the people of the world regardless of race, ethnicity or religion. For several decades the international Scouting movement has actively promoted global peace and harmony through the distribution of the Peace Light. Each year, a child from Upper Austria is named the Peace Light Child and travels to Bethlehem to receive the flame from one of the grotto’s oil lamps. These lamps have been burning continuously for over 1,000 years. The light and child then travel back to Vienna, Austria, where it is distributed at a Service of Dedication to delegations of Scouts from across Europe, who in turn take it back, with a message of peace, to their own countries.

Post Commander Ray Vincent was asked to give a speech to open the event. He talked about the origins of the Peace Light and his personal opportunity to visit the grotto in Bethlehem while he was on deployment.

“To me personally, there’s no better place to remember the mission of the Peace Light than at this cemetery," he said. "For those who have given their all are laid to rest. These heroes did not seek to promote war and death, but rather to end it so that the world can heal. Sadly we know this wasn’t to be the last war, war still rages around the globe today. But we, by partaking in this ceremony, have not failed in the goal of the Peace Light Mission. Not at all. Because we are here today to honor those who gave their lives in the name of achieving peace. The only way we can fail in this endeavor is if we stop trying.”