Understanding the past to build for the future
August 22, 2013
DONGDCUCHEON, South Korea -- To understand the future, one must first understand the past.
While celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement, 2nd Infantry Division Soldiers, Republic of Korea Army soldiers and Korean citizens took part in the ROK-U.S. Alliance Walk and Demilitarized Zone Security Experience event July 6.
U.S. Soldiers, ROK soldiers and civilians walked side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder as they shared in a remembrance of the sacrifices necessary to secure freedom.
"It's been 60 years since U.S. and ROK Soldiers fought together and bled together, so it is meaningful that Soldiers and Civilians walk together today," said Brig. Gen. Song Hee-seob, from Yongin, Gyeonggi-do, who is the commander of ROKA 6th Artillery Brigade.
For one U.S. Soldier taking part in this event, it was a chance to show a softer and gentler side of the American Soldier.
"We have a great history with this country and its people," said Sgt. 1st Class Reynaldo Torres Jr., from Dallas, Texas, 210th Fires Brigade network operations noncommissioned officer. "By coming out and participating in these types of events it shows that we are not bad people. It shows the citizens that we are just like them and it shows we are part of the community also."
Throughout the experience, ROK and U.S. Soldiers and local Citizens, including students, learned about the history of their two nations and how their strong bond came about.
The group had a chance to visit the Luxembourg War Monument, the Independence Patriot Memorial Stone, the Freedom Protection Peace Museum and the Typhoon Observatory as part of the event to gain cultural knowledge.
"I have never been out of the U.S. before, so I really didn't know what to expect," said Pvt. Samuel Beresford, from West Palm Beach, Fla., a field automated tactical data system specialist assigned to A Battery, 1st Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team. "But it's been pretty cool. It gives you an understanding of what happened in the past and what is set for the future."
As the group stopped and visited each site, individuals were asked to pay respect by presenting a flower to the fallen Soldiers who served and died before them.
"I am very honored to be one of the Soldiers chosen to give a flower at the memorial," said Torres.
While today's Soldiers showed their respect to those who came before them, Korean citizens showcased their gratitude to the American Soldiers serving in their country today.
American Soldiers received a book of letters written by students of Dongducheon Foreign Language High School, showing their deepest appreciation for the sacrifice to defend the freedom of South Korea for more than 60 years.
"We also gave the Soldiers a pin to thank them for everything which they have done for us," said Cheryl Hye-bin, 17, a student at Dongducheon Korean High School.
Korean citizens joined ROK and U.S. Soldiers to honor fallen Soldiers of the past, and along the way they received a history lesson on the events that led to the relationship they share today.