In the early morning hours of Aug. 6, 1945, Hiroshima, Japan experienced events that would change world history.
Just one hour after air-raid sirens blared, waking the sleeping city of Hiroshima, a flash of light was followed by a massive explosion.
A B-29 Superfortress had begun its bombing run, instantly killing over 70,000 of the 350,000-person population. Tens of thousands more would die by the end of the year from the devastating effects of radiation.
Less than a mile from ground-zero at Hiroshima Castle, a hibakujumoku, a Japanese term for atomic-bombed tree, survived the blast.
Three seedlings from that tree were planted at the Peace Garden at Fresno State Thursday morning to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the tragic events.
“We are honored that our Peace Garden will be home to such special trees – trees whose ancestral memory imparts insight about life, hope and the human power to envision a harmonious future,” said Fresno State Provost Saul Jimenez-Sandoval.
Toru Maeda, Consul General of Japan in San Francisco, was reflective of the human cost the warfare inflicted on the citizens of the cities and the country as a whole.
“Today is a very solemn day for all of us Japanese people,” said Toru Maeda, Consul General of Japan in San Francisco. “We deeply feel the weight of tragedies. We honor the lives of those people. May their souls rest in peace.”
Several speakers joined Maeda to deliver words of comfort and solidarity, including rinban of the Fresno Buddhist Temple Rev. Kakei Nakagawa, reverend of the United Japanese Christian Church Akiko Miyake-Stoner and Norman Otani, president of the Hiroshima Chuka Kenjinkai.
“We have gathered in solidarity, united in hope,” Miyake-Stoner said as she delivered the ceremony’s benediction. “We have gathered to pray for peace and justice for all people.”
Seeds from the parent tree were collected by the Green Legacy Hiroshima and One Sunny Day Initiatives in Oregon in 2017. After germinating, the seeds were sent to the California Health Sciences University to be distributed in the Central Valley with the help of the local Japanese-American community.
The ceremony also marks the beginning of a three-day fast, which will end at 11 a.m. Aug. 9, to recognize the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.