Clackamas County marks 75th anniversary of WWII's end
With the U.S. celebrating Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, Pamplin Media Group checked in about Hiroshima friendship trees being planted in Clackamas County, along with Oregon City's sister city in Japan.
To mark the 75th anniversary of the close of World War II, public celebrations in Happy Valley, Gladstone and Oregon City were scheduled this spring around planting special peace trees distributed by the Oregon Department of Forestry in partnership with nonprofit groups. These ginkgo seedlings were grown from seeds collected from trees that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and brought to Oregon by Hideko Tamura-Snider, who survived the bombing on Aug. 6, 1945.
One of the first cities in the state to receive a Hiroshima Peace Tree, Lake Oswego planted its ginkgo at Foothills Park in 2019 to celebrate Arbor Week and National Poetry Month. Other Clackamas County cities followed suit this year, starting with a March 28 planting in Gladstone Nature Park, with a public dedication ceremony to be held at a later date.
Oregon City's ginkgo was scheduled to be planted on April 25 as part of a community celebration of Enhancement Day, which was canceled due to the pandemic.
"The tree has been planted at the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center as we don't know when we would have an opportunity to host a community event," said city spokesperson Kristin Brown.
Happy Valley staff, in coordination with state officials, decided it would be best to complete the veterans memorial at City Hall this fall and plant its accompanying Hiroshima Peace Tree following that effort.
"The hope was to be able to promote the planting a bit more than we currently can with the restrictions in place," said Happy Valley City Manager Jason Tuck.
Kristin Ramstad, Hiroshima Peace Tree program manager, said 36 peace trees — 29 ginkgos and seven Asian persimmons — will be planted across 16 Oregon counties this year. Ramstad said the plantings are 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.
Tamura-Snider was 10 years old when she lost her mother in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. She went on to establish the One Sunny Day Initiative, based in her adopted home of Medford. Tamura-Snider secured from Green Legacy Hiroshima seeds the group had collected from trees that had survived the atom bomb.
In spring 2017, Tamura-Snider gave the seeds to Oregon Community Trees board member Michael Oxendine in Ashland to germinate.
Upon learning 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.
Oregon City's sister city
Junichi Toyama, Japan's chairperson of the Oregon City-Tateshina Sister City Committee, reported that by the middle of April, schools closed, and most events were canceled, but most businesses, restaurants and parks remained open. Tateshina is located in Japan's Nagano Prefecture, which as of May 19, only had 76 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (no deaths), compared to the 244 deaths and 5,070 cases in Tokyo.
Tateshina Mayor Masayoshi Morozumi acknowledged at the beginning of April that the annual Oregon City student visit to Japan, scheduled in August of this year, would probably have to be cancelled due to the pandemic. Sister City Committee Chairperson Beth Werber of Oregon City is hoping that the group might be able to reschedule the trip for 2021.
Of Japan's 47 prefectures, 27 decided in May to relax stay-at-home requests issued in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus. The Sister City Committee hired Dara Reckard, a 2018 graduate of Lewis & Clark College, as an assistant language teacher a couple of years ago, and she will be teaching in Tateshina for one more year.
Oregon City and Tateshina have been "sisters" since 1974, when the two cities were about the same size in population, and both were largely agricultural. Since then, Oregon City's population has grown to more than 35,000, while Tateshina's population has decreased to less than 8,000.
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