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Oregon Dept. of Forestry marks completion of statewide plantings of Hiroshima peace trees

Volunteer waters newly planted Hiroshima peace tree at Redmond City Hall
Oregon Dept. of Forestry
Volunteer waters newly planted Hiroshima peace tree at Redmond City Hall

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) — A four-year-long campaign to plant saplings grown from the seeds of trees that survived the atom bombing of Hiroshima concludes Wednesday with a celebration at the Oregon Department of Forestry’s headquarters in Salem. 

That date was chosen because it is the International Day of Peace, as declared by the United Nations General Assembly back in 1981.

Representatives from 45 organizations that planted a total of 51 peace trees in 35 communities around the state have been invited to the ceremony. Also attending will be a number of Japanese-American organizations.

Two of the trees were planted in the Central Oregon cities of Bend, at Hollinshead Park, and Redmond at City Hall.

Oregon State Forester Cal Mukumoto, whose ancestry is Japanese-American, will welcome guests and thank them for making Oregon the home to one of the densest concentrations of Hiroshima peace trees outside Japan. 

Guest of honor will be Hideko Tamura-Snider from Medford. She was 10 years old living in Hiroshima when the city was flattened by the first of two atomic bombs the U.S. dropped on Japan in August 1945. Buried in the ruins of her grandmother’s home, Hideko was able to free herself and survived the firestorm that later engulfed the city. Her mother and other relatives were killed by the blast. 

Hideko moved to the United States, eventually settling in Oregon where she wrote two books about her experiences. She founded the One Sunny Day Initiative to promote peace and nuclear disarmament around the world. At her urging, arborist Mike Oxendine in Ashland obtained seeds of survivor trees from the Green Legacy Hiroshima organization. Its volunteers collect and send the seeds around the world as ambassadors of peace. 

After Oxendine germinated the seeds, Oregon Community Trees and the Oregon Department of Forestry collaborated in finding homes for the trees. Communities large and small from all parts of the state responded enthusiastically. Today the trees can be found from the coast to La Grande, and from Hood River to Klamath Falls. The 51st tree was planted in Gresham just on Sept. 19. 

As part of Wednesday’s ceremonies, ODF will be dedicating the ginkgo peace tree planted on its campus back in April 2020. COVID restrictions at that time prevented large public gatherings so the dedication was postponed to Sept. 21 of this year to coincide with International Day of Peace.

“These peace trees not only convey a message of peace from the residents of Hiroshima, they are also symbols of survival and resilience in the face of unimaginable destruction,” said State Forester Mukumoto. “Seeing them putting down roots in the good soil of Oregon and reaching for the sky gives me hope that people in our state – like the survivors in Hiroshima – can not only endure harsh times but can share with others the hard-won wisdom from having persevered through them.“

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