By Hiroko Seki, Rotary Club of Tokyo Yoneyama Yuai
On 12 June, during the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, we planted a Ginkgo nursery tree at The Carter Center, founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. The tree is a descendant of one that survived the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.
When I saw this young tree for the first time, I was blown away by its vigor and beauty. The sapling was cultivated from its mother tree by Green Legacy Hiroshima Initiative led by UNITAR Hiroshima, and cared for by Steaven Leeper and Elizabeth Baldwin for nearly six years before they brought it to Atlanta for the ceremony.
The day of the planting included heavy rain, so the ceremony was held inside. Then Rotary President John F. Germ, Past President Sakuji Tanaka, and the CEO of the Carter Center attended. A certificate was presented to Past District Governor Jiro Kawatsuma from Hiroshima. Visitors can now see the tree in a beautiful garden at the Center.
A few days prior to the ceremony, during the Presidential Peace Conference, our group presented a breakout session called “A Hopeful Future with Green Legacy in the Nuclear Age.” Guest speakers included Tanaka and Ira Helfand, co-president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. During the session, Kawatsuma also shared his personal account of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. His story deeply touched the audience.
As a team leader from Japan, I presented about the partnership between the Rotary Club of Tokyo Yoneyama Yuai and UNITAR Hiroshima and its Green Legacy Hiroshima Initiative. It was moving for me to see the way the audience eagerly received the information, taking photos of the slides and recording speeches.
More and more Rotarians are joining our initiative. In 2016, a sapling taken from a tree that survived the atomic bomb in Hiroshima was planted at Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden, Pasadena, California, USA. Our goal is not only to plant trees but also seeds of peace in people’s minds around the world. It is most important to tell our stories through these trees, so that people understand the importance of peace and nurture the trees as a symbol of life and hope.
I encourage you to visit one of these trees if you are in their area and reflect upon their message of peace.