TONGILCHON, South Korea — U.S. and South Korean soldiers and civilians gathered Sunday at the Tongilchon Presbyterian Church to hold a “friendship and peace” concert and service.

The 8th U.S. Army band, Suwon Christian Men’s Choir and members of the Seoul American Middle School choir sang several songs to the packed church after Jang Dong-hee, president of the Rose of Sharon Lovers’ Association, gave opening remarks.

The church sits a few miles south of the Demilitarized Zone, near U.S. Camp Greaves.

Jang told Stripes he organized the concert because it’s important that South Korea and the United States reaffirm their alliance, especially because this year is its 50th anniversary.

He dismissed the recent surge in anti-Americanism across the peninsula, saying the “U.S.-ROK alliance must continue to get stronger and stronger.”

U.S. soldiers, in both civilian clothes and dress uniforms, were present.

Pfc. Clifford Deamer, of Camp Greaves, said he was glad he was invited to attend.

“It’s a good way for Korean nationals and Americans to get to know one another and to share in loving God,” he said.

Deamer said the event also provided a refreshing break from the anti-American sentiment about which U.S. soldiers hear so much.

Lt. Col. Craig N. Wiley, 2nd Infantry Division chaplain, also spoke.

“During the past 50 years, many hundreds of thousands of American military members have come here to ensure that your great nation is never again invaded like it was in June 1950,” he said. “The combined defense team of Koreans and Americans has succeeded in maintaining peace and stability.”

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