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Trees of peace

Jamie Lusch / Mail TribuneA gingko biloba tree was planted in 2020 in remembrance of the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima at the John F. Fleming Memorial Park in Rogue River.
Rogue River will celebrate the planting of a Hiroshima Peace Tree

ROGUE RIVER — A dedication 75 years in the making — plus a year-and-a-half worth of pandemic restrictions — will take place Thursday when a gingko biloba tree, whose ancestor survived the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima, is dedicated to the community.

The event — and the planting of one of several Hiroshima Peace Trees in Southern Oregon — were set to coincide with last year’s 75th anniversary of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima, but the pandemic forced organizers to postpone.

Planted last April, the now 4-foot-tall tree has been sunbathing on the banks of the Rogue River, patiently waiting.

The gingko was germinated from seeds collected from four different types of trees that endured the bombing.

The plantings are the result of a combined effort by the Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon Community Trees and the One Sunny Day Initiative, founded by Hiroshima survivor and Medford resident Hideko Tamura Snider.

Snider, who will be on hand for Thursday’s event, was a happy 10-year-old when the atomic bomb devastated her home, killed her mother and forever changed her life.

Now in her late 80s, Tamura Snider has dedicated her life to educating the public about the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, and to planting “seeds of peace, hope and reconciliation among people of the world.”

In addition to publishing a book, “One Sunny Day,” about the bombing, Tamura Snider wrote a children’s book, “When a Peace Tree Blooms,” and has been involved in a number of memorial events, including annual remembrances of the bombings in Ashland and Medford via her One Sunny Day Initiative (osdinitiatives.com).

JoAnn Dixon, chairperson of the Tree City USA committee for the city of Rogue River, said the planting inside the city’s John F. Fleming Park, named for a Rogue River native who died as a young man in Vietnam, was “an incredible opportunity” for the community to think about some of history’s darkest days and to share stories of hope.

“It’s remarkable to think that here is this person who was just a little girl, she survived this horrible bombing and now she travels all over the country reaching out to promote peace in the world. She lives right here in our community and she’s really wonderful. We are just so honored to be one of the recipients of these trees,” said Dixon.

“The tree is already really beautiful. It’s about four feet tall and full of gingko leaves. It doesn’t have a spot of dried leaf, and it’s just gorgeous. It sits in the park along the river as a tribute. We’re so happy to have it.”

Thursday’s event will take place at 9 a.m. Thursday at John F. Fleming Memorial Park, 8880 Rogue River Highway. The park is located off Interstate 5 exit 48 near the foot of the Depot Street Bridge, across from the Best Western Inn on Rogue River Highway. Overflow parking will be available at the Best Western.

For more information, see osdinitiatives.com/Green_Legacy_Hiroshima.html

History of local Peace Trees

The gingko biloba tree being dedicated Thursday was germinated and cared for by arborist Michael Oxendine using a packet of seeds received by the Oregon-based One Sunny Day Initiative in 2017.

Then landscape supervisor at Southern Oregon University, Oxendine and OSDI facilitators began seeking homes for more than 120 saplings, including ginkgos, persimmons, camphors and camellias.

In addition to the gingko in Rogue River, nearly four dozen Hiroshima Peace Trees are planted in 32 Oregon communities.

Other trees dedicated in the Rogue Valley include:

Persimmon, Medford Congregational Church, February 2020

Gingko, Skyrman Arboretum, Central Point, March 2020

Gingo, Thalden Pavilion, SOU, August 2020

Gingko, Greenwood River Trail, Grants Pass, April 2021

Gingko and persimmon trees, Chuck Roberts Park, Talent, October (following the Almeda fire)

To see where other Peace Trees are planted in Oregon and around the world, see www.oregon.gov/odf/forestbenefits/pages/Hiroshima-peace-trees.aspx