Planting Peace – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

On the 77th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, a survivor continued her mission to spread peace

Hideko Tamura Snider pours water on the Hiroshima Peace Tree Saturday in Ashland. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]

Although Hideko Tamura Snider received many accolades Saturday during a community event in Ashland commemorating the anniversary of the World War II atomic bombing of Hiroshima, it was clear that he did not want to be the center of attention.

“Less I was the target – protecting our planet and our life is the most important thing today,” said Snider, who survived the Hiroshima attack.

Snider’s self-deprecating comments prompted Jerry Campbell, director of the Rogue Valley Peace Choir, to respond, “We share your passion for peace, but nothing you can say will deter us from loving you.”

At Southern Oregon University’s farm off Walker Avenue, Campbell and a crowd of others watched as Snider dedicated a ginkgo tree, which grew from the seed of a tree that survived the atomic bombing years ago 77 years It was the latest of many “peace trees” planted throughout the Rogue Valley and state, thanks to Snider and his One Sunny Day initiative.

“(The tree) signifies the fulfillment of my dream of working a common ground, which is the only way the human race can come out,” Snider said in an interview after the dedication.

“We can’t say, ‘We’re the biggest!’ No, no, no, we can’t go with a power competition, we have to build a common ground and let peace and justice prevail by working.”

During Saturday’s ceremony under Thalden Pavilion next to SOU Farm, the university’s landscape supervisor, Michael Oxendine, spoke about the importance of the legacy tree program, in which he took seeds and made grow into 120 trees, which now grow in towns from Portland. in Tillamook.

“I open the door (of my office) and there’s a Japanese lady there, and she says, ‘I’ve been all over asking people to help me grow these trees,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, come in . tell me all about it,” Oxendine told the audience. “His story moved me and brought me to tears.”

Oxendine said he wondered if he could “stand up and dedicate my life to sharing a message of peace” if he had been in Snider’s position in 1945.

Oxendine obtained the seeds from Hiroshima and germinated them in the SOU greenhouse.

“I didn’t want to do 10, I didn’t want to do 20. I said, ‘We’ve got to get 100,'” he said. “I think it was the biggest order they’d ever had. They sent us 100 different trees of seven different varieties.”

Oxendine said that while trees can be victims of wildfires, water is a resource that is always present in some form.

“Water… has very special characteristics; it keeps us all alive,” Oxendine said, “and it’s always been here. The water that is here today, and that will bless the tree in a few minutes, has already been in the ginkgo tree, and we will return it to the Earth.”

Saturday’s ceremony wasn’t just about ‘peace trees’, it was meant to honor the thousands of people who died, were injured or suffered widespread radiation repercussions from the nuclear blast in Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.

The day’s event included the sound of a gong, music from the Rogue Valley Peace Choir, and Todd Barton, a flutist who played some Japanese folk songs. Barton continued with an extensive repertoire as participants in the ceremony poured water on the rocks to remember the souls lost on those fateful days in Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

There was also a reflection on today’s consumerism by Dan Wahpepah, co-director and founder of Red Earth Descendants. He gave an inspiring talk about how many people think too much of themselves and not enough of the environment.

“We’re in a very intense awakening moment right now, with all these world powers in a nation-state mentality,” Wahpepah said. “The government, the military, religion, all these things work together to rob us of that critical thinking. All we have to do is take care of our families and plant seeds. We don’t need all this destruction.”

Lucie Scheuer, liaison to the One Sunny Day Initiative, told the crowd Saturday that she felt empowered.

“I know I’m a small person and I can’t change the world this year. But I’ve found over the years that I can,” Scheuer said.

Contact reporter Kevin Opsahl at 541-776-4476 or Follow him on Twitter @KevJourno.

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