A gingko tree descended from a Japanese tree that survived Hiroshima will be planted in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Roseburg next year as a symbol of peace.
Two others will be planted at Umpqua Community College and Master Gardeners Discovery Garden at River Forks Park.
The young trees are among 36 Oregon seedlings grown from seeds of Japanese trees that survived America’s World War II atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.
The trees are part of a peace memorial to the bombing, the end of World War II and the seven decades of friendship enjoyed by the two countries that were once enemies.
“These trees represent the hopes of my generation that we continue to be at peace and the fact that peace is something that can come from enemies,” Odd Fellows President David Hopkins said.
Hideko Tamura-Snider of Medford obtained the trees from Green Legacy Hiroshima. Tamura-Snider was 10 when she lost her mother in the bombing.
In 2017, Tamura-Snider gave the seeds to Oregon Community Trees board member Michael Oxendine in Ashland. He sprouted the seeds but had no place to care for the seedlings, so he convinced the Oregon Department of Forestry to take care of them and find them new homes.
The forestry department arranged for the seedlings to be cared for by Corvallis Parks and Recreation and then to be offered at no cost to Tree Cities and Tree Campuses around the state.
Hopkins said it’s exciting to have one of the trees at the cemetery because of its historic nature. He said the Odd Fellows intend to have a ceremony in January and install English and Japanese language plaques. They plan to have volunteers create peace cranes to send back to Japan.
While most small communities received a single tree, Roseburg will receive three. Hopkins attributes that to the community’s reputation for serving veterans.
“It kind of speaks to the character of Roseburg as a veteran community but also somewhere that honors peace and the sanctity of life,” he said.
The 36 seedlings being distributed next year are not the first Hiroshima peace trees planted in Oregon. Some were already planted at Oregon State University and in Lake Oswego. But this is the largest number planted in any U.S. state, according to Green Legacy Hiroshima.
Kristin Ramstad, manager of the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Urban and Community Forestry Assistance Program, said in a written statement that the project is a reminder that trees can bring a community together to reflect on the more meaningful aspects of life.
“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,” Ramstad 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.”
She also said they give Oregonians the chance to acknowledge the service, sacrifices and suffering of the tens of millions of people around the world touched by World War II.