CAMP CASEY, Republic of Korea -- For the first time in its history, the 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division hosted its annual Arbor Day ceremony at Camp Casey, the unit's northernmost base in Korea on April 10.
"As we continue the realignment of our forces here on the peninsula, we seek to reaffirm the ROK-U.S. Alliance and heartfelt bonds we have developed between neighbors by planting the 25th tree here, at Camp Casey," said Brig. Gen. Jon Howerton, 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division Deputy Commanding General-Maneuver. "Although this tree is small today, it shall grow day by day, inch by inch and remain strong," said Howerton.
Standing alongside Assistant Governor of Gyeonggi Province Shin-Whoan Park, Howerton helped plant a pine tree and unveiled a plaque to symbolize the continued mutual friendship the Warrior Division shares with the local community.
"It is my belief that this tree, like those that have come before it, shall symbolize the roots that bind us together and to our past in an enduring way," said Howerton, a Leesville, Louisiana native.
Previously held at the 2ID/RUCD headquarters at Camp Red Cloud in Uijeongbu since April 1978, this 25th tree planting ceremony signals a key switch in locations ahead of the division's fall relocation to Pyeongtaek.
Both Howerton and Park thanked guests for attending the tree planting ceremony, highlighting shared hopes that the tree's growth will mature like the enduring friendship between Gyeonggi Province and 2ID/RUCD.
"I feel better because this event is now being held on this lovely day and I think this is a very meaningful event," said Shin Whoan Park, assistant governor of Gyeonggi. "Like this pine tree that can overcome difficulties with a strong heart and brave mind, I am sure that the friendship between the ROK and U.S. will remain strong despite any difficulties," said Park.
South Korea started celebrating Arbor Day on April 5, 1950 during the Korean War due to the severe destruction of forests and mountains during the conflict. Though no longer officially recognized, the public holiday is still a popular commemorative event throughout the country.
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