By Pfc. Lee Min-hwi (USAG-Yongsan)July 8, 2008
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - Yongsan brought a bit of Americana to the middle of Seoul as an estimated 3,000 people visited throughout the day July 4th to celebrate the 232nd birthday of the United States.
"This is one of the biggest events we have each year," said Paul Robinson, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation director. "I've been here 50 years, and it's safe to say that this was definitely one of the best we've ever had. It was a very fine day."
This year, the Yongsan community presented more than just the best. Festival-goers enjoyed a carnival-like atmosphere featuring traditional American and Korean entertainment, cultural performances, youth and adult activities, information and food booths, and, of course, a fireworks display.
"Today was just a great day," said Pvt. Justin Eckharolt, 18th Medical Command. "The fireworks, concerts... they all brought a little bit of home here. I enjoyed it."
Festival-goers paused for a short time in the afternoon to watch 17 Soldiers become U.S. citizens in a special Independence Day Naturalization Ceremony.
Later, musical headliner Sherrie Austin played to a capacity crowd inside Collier Field House. After an 8th U.S. Army Band concert, a 20-minute fireworks display brought the nine-hour festival to a close.
"This is a very important day," said Command Sgt. Major Ralph Rusch, USAG-Yongsan command sergeant major. "Today, compared to other garrisons I've been before, this is definitely one of the best I've seen."
The day's events also featured performances by several Korean entertainers, such as the Quades Jazz Band, Doodrock Beat performers, and other Korean pop artists who brought their talents to Yongsan.
You Yong-hun is one of the Doodrock performers who shook the audience with powerful rhythms. Doodrock, in the spirit of "Nanta" and "Stomp," mixes traditional Korean drumming with rock music, high-energy contemporary dance, tap, mime and slapstick.
"I know that Independence Day has a great meaning to American Soldiers and their families in Korea," he said. "I feel happy that they invited Korean people to their base to celebrate together. It is my honor to come here."