Friendship blossoms at Yokota planting ceremony
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- More than 100 years ago, the first of thousands of Japanese Cherry Blossom, or "Sakura", trees arrived in Washington D.C.--an extension of friendship from the people of Japan to the people of the United States.
Echoing that historic gesture, community leaders from Fussa, Japan donated two Cherry Blossom tree saplings that were planted during a ceremony here Thursday. The saplings were planted next to Yokota's Professional Development Center.
"It was truly an honor to celebrate this historic event alongside our Japanese community leaders," said Col. Douglas DeLaMater, 374th Airlift Wing commander. "We chose this planting location specifically to guarantee that arriving visitors and base personnel have access to these beautiful trees."
The history of the Cherry Blossom tree in the U.S. began in 1912 when 3,020 cherry blossom saplings of twelve different varieties were shipped aboard a Japanese vessel bound for Washington D.C.--the S.S. Awa Maru. One of the saplings planted Thursday was a descendant of the original trees given to the U.S.
The cherry blossom trees, first planted along the Tidal Basin and East Potomac banks, have come to populate cities throughout the U.S.
Every year, Washington D.C. hosts the National Cherry Blossom Festival between the months of March and April. According to the U.S. National Park Service, "hundreds of thousands of city residents and visitors from across the nation and around the world come to witness the festival."
At Yokota, service members can get a first-hand look at the blossoms when they bloom in the spring from various locations throughout the base.
"The United States Air Force would not be successful here in Japan without the dedicated support of our Japanese brethren," DeLaMater said. "These trees will stand as a lasting symbol of friendship for decades to come."