(Photo | Pexels)
To mark the 75th anniversary of the close of World War II, Bend, Redmond and two dozen other Oregon communities have confirmed that next year they will be planting special peace trees distributed by the Oregon Department of Forestry in partnership with the nonprofit groups Oregon Community Trees and the Medford-based One Sunny Day Initiative.
The seedling ginkgo and Asian persimmon trees were grown from seeds collected from trees that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The bombing occurred 75 years ago on Aug. 6, 1945 and is also being remembered this year.
Kristin Ramstad, manager of the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Urban and Community Forestry Assistance Program, said that between now and next summer, the 36 peace trees (29 ginkgos and seven Asian persimmons) will be planted in 26 cities and towns across 16 Oregon counties.
Two of the trees will be planted in Deschutes County, both ginkgos. One is slated to be planted on the grounds of Redmond’s City Hall and one in Bend’s Hollinshead Park.
Most of the seedlings are going to parks, arboretums and schools across the state. Other sites include a cemetery and a church. The greatest number will be planted in April as part of Arbor Week. View the full list of locations at oregon.gov/ODF/ForestBenefits/Pages/Hiroshima-peace-trees.aspx.
The seedlings are not the first Hiroshima peace trees planted in Oregon. Some were planted earlier this year at Oregon State University and Lake Oswego. However, they represent by far the largest number planted in any U.S. state, according to Green Legacy Hiroshima’s online world map of peace tree locations, viewable at glh.unitar.org.
Ramstad said the project is a reminder that in addition to the environmental benefits tree canopy provides in cities, trees also play an important role in bringing 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,” said Ramstad. “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.”
Ramstad said the plantings 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.