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Seedlings, destined for Japanese garden at middle school, transported from land destroyed by the atom bomb

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Medford resident Hideko Tamura-Snider (center) brought seeds to Oregon that were collected from trees that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. A bombing survivor herself, she got Oregon Community Trees board member Mike Oxendine (left) to germinate the seeds, with the help of ODF's Public Affairs Specialist Jim Gersbach (right).

Newberg will join 25 cities across the state in planting trees to not only commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, but to also acknowledge the atomic bombing that brought an end to the fight in the Pacific.

The seedlings to be planted – ginkgo and Asian persimmon – were grown from seeds collected from trees that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.

In Newberg, an Asian persimmon will be planted in a Japanese garden near the entrance to Chehalem Valley Middle School, which has long had a sister school relationship with Wadayama School in Japan.

All told, 36 peace trees are to be planted in 16 Oregon counties over the next several months. Other seedlings are going to parks, arboretums and schools across the state, the majority planted during Arbor Week in April, according to Kristin Ramstad, manager of the Oregon Department of Forestry's urban and community forestry assistance program.

The project got its start in 2019 when peace tree seedlings were planted at Oregon State University in Corvallis and in Lake Oswego.

Ramstad said the project is not only a reminder of the environmental benefits tree canopies provide to cities, but also "the important role trees can play in bringing a community together to reflect on the more meaningful aspects of life," a release said.

"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."

The trees, she added, are also an opportunity for Oregonians "to acknowledge the service, sacrifices and suffering of tens of millions of people all over the world who were touched by World War II – both civilians and veterans."

Included in that group is Hideko Tamura-Snider, who as a 10-year-old lost her mother in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Tamura-Snider, founder of the One Sunny Day Initiative in Medford, was responsible for securing from a group in Hiroshima seeds from trees that survived the bomb blast. In 2017, she gave the seeds to Oregon Community Trees board member Michael Oxendine to germinate in nearby Ashland. Although Oxedine was successful in getting the seeds to germinate, he turned to Oregon Community Trees and the Oregon Department of Forestry to find homes for the seeds. In turn, the ODF turned over the seeds' care to Corvallis Parks and Recreation staff.

The anticipated plantings "filled me with joy, remembering the long journey for both the trees and myself," Tamura-Snider said. "Thank you, people of Oregon, for your enduring faith in the future, in the resilience of life."

Arts & Leisure briefs

Do you have a penchant for jazz music? Then there's a local group that could use your help

A jazz trio is looking for musicians and singers to join them in Newberg. Called the Newberg Jazz Jam, they characterize themselves as a "first-class rhythm section" that swings into musical action on the third Friday of every month from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

The group features Ron Steen on drums, Phil Goldberg on keyboard and Liam Hathaway on bass.

Vocalists interested in joining the group should bring three copies of each music chart, Steen said, when they come to the jam sessions.

For more information, call 971-333-8466.

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