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Celebration marks dedication of final “Hiroshima Peace Tree” in Oregon

Peace tree
Chris Lehman
/
KLCC
Hideko Tamura-Snider, who survived the Hiroshima atomic bomb blast as a ten-year-old, ceremonially waters a "peace tree" at the Oregon Department of Forestry in Salem. Tamura-Snider now lives in Medford.

More than 50 trees that are descended from ones that survived the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, Japan are now planted across Oregon. The four-year project was celebrated Wednesday with a ceremony in Salem.

As musicians played, people gathered behind the Oregon Department of Forestry headquarters. That’s where one of the so-called “Hiroshima Peace Trees” is planted. The trees are ginkgoes and Asian persimmons, and all are from seeds of trees that withstood the 1945 blast.

The tree at ODF headquarters was actually planted more than two years ago, during the height of the pandemic. No public dedication was held at the time, due to pandemic protocols. Organizers said Wednesday's ceremony was meant to both dedicate the Salem tree and to recognize the entire project as a whole.

peace tree music
Chris Lehman
/
KLCC
Musicians played at the dedication of the peace tree.

Among those in attendance was Hideko Tamura Snider, who survived the Hiroshima attack as a ten-year-old. Tamura-Snider was instrumental in getting the project off the ground in Oregon. As part of the dedication, she ceremonially watered the young tree.

Also at the ceremony were people who helped bring the peace trees to dozens of communities around the state. Reilly Newman helped in the effort to plant a peace tree in both Creswell and Cottage Grove.

“We have a lot of veterans that live in the community," she said. "It’s an opportunity for them as well as other community members to really come and reflect on the past and the future and how we as individuals can really carry that torch of peace.”

One of the first trees in the project was planted in Alton-Baker Park in Eugene. Scott Altenhoff was Eugene’s urban forester at the time. He’s now the state urban forester.

“I think it’s an amazing reminder that the seeds of peace are within all of us," he said. "If we can be intentional about our relationship with nature and our relationship with others, that’s the beginning of peace.”

Hiroshima peace tree dedication

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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