SAN FRANCISCO – Two second generation saplings—descendants of ginkgo trees that survived the nuclear blast on Hiroshima—were planted at the Japanese Tea Garden today in a ceremony that also honored former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and Dame Charlotte Malliard Shultz for their advocacy around nuclear disarmament.
United Religions Initiative, a global grassroots interfaith organization, held the ceremonial planting in conjunction with the United Nations’ International Day for Peace (Sept. 21) and its International Day for Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons (Sept. 26).
“These trees represent our City’s commitment to the health and safety of our planet,” said San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed. “For generations to come, San Francisco residents and visitors will be able to visit these trees in the Japanese Tea Garden and reflect on the importance of a nuclear-free future.”
The trees join seeds and saplings from the A-bombed trees growing in more than 20 countries as part of the effort for a nuclear-free planet. Green Legacy Hiroshima, a URI Cooperation Circle, shares worldwide the double message of caution and hope that the unique survivor trees of Hiroshima (and ultimately Nagasaki) represent, recalling on the one hand the dangers of arms of mass destruction and nuclear weapons in particular, and on the other hand, the sacred character of mankind and the resilience of nature.
“These trees will stand here as a symbol of abiding peace between our two countries and a symbol of a world free of nuclear weapons,” said President and Founder of URI, The Right Rev. William E. Swing. “So it is fitting that we honor this unique and praiseworthy couple, with trees that have withstood this planet’s hottest test. The George and Charlotte Shultz Peace Grove of the Japanese Tea Garden will stand tall in San Francisco.”
The Japanese Tea Garden, located in Golden Gate Park, is the oldest public Japanese garden.
“We are honored to have these survivor trees grow and thrive here in this special place for the Japanese American community and all San Franciscans,” said San Francisco Recreation and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “They will stand not only for peace, but as a living honor to George and Charlotte Shultz and their work around disarmament.”
URI is a global grassroots interfaith network that cultivates peace and justice by engaging people to bridge religious and cultural differences and work together for the good of their communities and the world. Local groups called Cooperation Circles connect to a global network that amplifies impact. URI’s network comprises 1018 Cooperation Circle in 108 countries.