To mark the 75th anniversary of the close of World War II, Gladstone officials held a ceremony Oct. 3 to dedicate a peace tree grown from seeds collected from trees that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
Oregon's Department of Forestry, in partnership with nonprofit groups, raised ginkgo seedlings from seeds brought to Oregon by Hideko Tamura-Snider, who survived the atomic bombing in 1945. Gladstone Nature Park's ginkgo, planted in March, was among 45 Hiroshima peace trees planted over the past two years across Oregon.
Hiroshima-born Elaine Wong and daughter Michelle of Clackamas County attended the Gladstone ceremony. Aug. 6 and 9 marked the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which killed over 200,000 civilians, so far the only use of nuclear weapons in a war.
"I was very young when it happened, and I lost two cousins." Elaine said. "That's all anyone wants is peace."
"We're excited to have this tree in Oregon, because we don't get to go back to Hiroshima very often," Michelle added.
Hiroshima resident Hiroaki Sato, a diplomat specializing in economic and cultural affairs for Consular Office of Japan in Portland, told attendees of the dedication that Hiroshima is most famous for its maples, but the city also has many ginkgo trees.
"Peace is not achieved by one city, but by everybody's prayers and hope," Sato said.
Tamura-Snider, the founder of One Sunny Day Initiative, was not able to attend Gladstone's dedication in person, but she expressed a hope in writing that the city's peace would grow along with the tree.
"We are honored to pass this guardianship to Gladstone," she wrote. "I am with you with spirit as you dedicate this tree."
Jim Gersbach, a board member of Oregon Community Trees, told dedication attendees that all of the members of his nonprofit organization were touched by Tamura-Snider's stories and agreed to partner with her on the effort.
"Oregon has been touched by fire unexpectedly, much like Hiroshima," Gerbach said. "These tragedies unite us in a desire for reconciliation and peace."
Mayor Tammy Stempel said the city was honored that Gladstone was the recipient of "one of these wonderful trees."
"It means so much that out of unfathomable tragedy this message of peace and hope was born," Stempel said. "We are blessed to be able to help carry that message forward, especially during these trying times."
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