PYEONGTAEK, SOUTH KOREA - On one of the first sunny days of spring, Pyeongtaek citizens, Camp Humphreys Soldiers and their Families, united to provide more greenery to the landscape of the Tongbok District in Pyeongtaek, March 29."The city of Pyeongtaek has a plan to plant over one million trees this year," said Pyeongtaek Mayor Jung Jang-seon, during the opening remarks at the event.According to the mayor's office, the city had multiple teams planting trees simultaneously across the city, as part of the event.Similar to the U.S. Arbor Day, nearly 20 Soldiers and their Families attended the ceremony and participated in the tree planting event. The importance of partnership between the Pyeongtaek and Camp Humphreys community was heavily emphasized and noted throughout the event.During the ceremony, Col. Samuel Simpson, Eighth Army Civil Affairs officer, mentioned the history of the community relationships and the opportunity to participate."For 69 years we have been here with our friends from Korea, to protect this great democracy and we are proud to be out here today to participate in this event," he said."To the mayor and city council, thank you for inviting us. We are proud to be here today in an event that contributes to our futures together, as we will spend many years here in Pyeongtaek with its citizens, continuing to defend the Republic of Korea."After the opening ceremony, the attendees were provided with various gardening tools, such as shovels, trowels, gloves, towels, water, and trees to plant around the park.It is through these ceremonies and events that help bring citizens from America and South Korea a sense of togetherness.Staff Sgt. Dana Cushionberry, 65th Medical Brigade combat medic, felt grateful to participate and was thankful to give back to the local community."I enjoy living and being a part of the Korean culture," she said. "Anytime there's an opportunity to go out and contribute to the community, we should all jump to it. The Korean culture and its citizens are so welcoming. When they see us out here, they are like 'oh great, this is not a bad thing,'" said Cushionberry.The tradition of planting trees in Korea, called "Sikmogil," which literally means "Planting Wood," was considered an official holiday until 2005, when it was removed from the South Korean calendar.
To close out the event, the participants were treated to a Korean traditional lunch fare of spicy pork, kimchi, bean soup and side dishes.