ROSEBURG — To mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, three Roseburg organizations plan to plant special peace trees distributed by the Oregon Department of Forestry, in partnership with the groups Oregon Community Trees and the One Sunny Day Initiative. Roseburg joins 25 other communities planting a peace tree next year.
The seedling ginkgo and Asian persimmon trees to be planted were grown from seeds collected from trees that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. Kristin Ramstad, manager of the Oregon Department of Forestry's Urban and Community Forestry Assistance Program, said that between now and next summer the trees will be planted across 16 Oregon counties. Most of them will be planted in parks, arboretums and schools.
In Roseburg, the trees will be planted at the Master Gardeners Discovery Garden, at River Forks Park, Umpqua Community College, and the Odd Fellows Cemetery. The full list of statewide locations can be found at www.oregon.gov/ODF/ForestBenefits/Pages/Hiroshima-peace-trees.aspx.
Ramstad said the project is a reminder that trees play an important role in bringing the community together, in addition to the environmental benefits tree canopies provide in a city.
"To Hiroshima residents struggling in the aftermath of the atomic bomb, seeing these battered and scorched trees leaf out again gave hope that they too might recover," she said. "They not only represented resilience in the face of unbelievable destruction, they have come to symbolize the desire and need for peace in a nuclear-armed world."
She added that the plantings are also an opportunity for Oregonians to acknowledge the service, sacrifices and suffering of the people all over the world, both civilians and veterans, who were touched by WWII.
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A long journey to Oregon
One person deeply touched by the war is Hideko Tamura-Snider, who was 10 years old when she lost her mother to the bombing of Hiroshima. Tamura-Snider is a founder of the Medford-based One Sunny Day Initiative and was responsible for securing the seeds to be planted. The seeds were germinated at Oregon Community Trees in Ashland, then given to Corvallis Parks and Recreation staff to be cared for until new, permanent, homes were found.
Ramstad said a few plantings will occur during the winter, but the majority will happen after April 2. The majority of the planting will be kicked off with ODF planting a ginkgo on its Salem campus with the last planting scheduled for May 9 at Klamath Falls Union High School.
"Organizer Gayle Yamasaki envisions lots of public involvement," said Ramstad. "She is planning a poetry reading by Lawson Fusao Inada, Oregon poet laureate from 2006 to 2010, as well as Japanese taiko drumming and a forum about what reconciliation looks like in the wake of World War II."
When she learned how many communities are embracing the Hiroshima seedlings, Tamura-Snider wrote that the plantings "filled me with joy, remembering the long journey for both the trees and myself. Thank you, people of Oregon, for your enduring faith in the future, in the resilience of life."