By Spc. Jason C. Adolphson (USAG-Yongsan)April 3, 2009
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - U.S. Army and Yongsan government officials gathered April 3 to celebrate Arbor Day at Yongsan Garrison and Hyochang Park in Seoul.
Arbor Day is a national celebration for planting trees. The holiday gained importance immediately after the Korean War because forests were devastated.
To renew a strong commitment for a better environment, USAG-Yongsan and Yongsan district officials first met in front of the Yongsan Child Development Center to unveil a plaque and plant a pine tree. About 10 children from the center joined the ceremony as part of the "Month of the Military Child."
"This is a good day," said Col. Dave Hall, U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan commander. "April is the Month of the Military Child and we are happy they can be part of this event."
Nearly 40 Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, USAG-Yongsan attended the ceremony. After refreshments, the group boarded a bus for a short trip to Hyochang Park where they joined municipal officials and district citizens.
"After the turmoil of the 20th century, Korean mountain tops were barren," Hall said in formal remarks to the group. "Each year, Korean people nurtured the land, planting trees and restoring nature."
Hall said Arbor Day is symbolic of the strong Korean-American alliance.
"My hope is that these trees will grow tall and strong, and stand as a beautiful symbol of the lasting friendship between our two nations," he said.
U.S. Army and Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army Soldiers and district citizens planted several trees together at the park.
"One of my favorite things about being stationed in Korea is taking part in Good Neighbor events," Sgt. Seli Kall said. "The thing that makes this particular day special is that it's more than a good time among allies. It's a beautiful sign of life and unity that will last forever."
"The Arbor Day event is a traditional and cooperative activity between the U.S. Army and Korean officials," said An Chang-sin, USAG-Yongsan's community relations officer.
After planting trees, Yongsan District Mayor Park Jang-kyu led American military officials on a short tour around Hyochang Park. The event ended with a catered Korean feast for all the Arbor Day workers.