On March 27, 1912, American First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, the wife of the Japanese Ambassador to the United States, planted the first two Japanese cherry blossom trees near Washington, DC’s Tidal Basin.
Mrs. Taft was an excellent advocate for bringing the Japanese cherry trees to Washington. For three years, she lived with her husband and children in the Philippines while her husband served as the Governor-General of the Philippine islands. She was considered remarkable at the time because she welcomed the opportunity to learn about the language and culture of the Philippines and to befriend the Filipino people.
In addition, Mrs. Taft enjoyed traveling to Japan and China and she brought a respect and appreciation for other cultures to the White House when her husband was elected in 1908.
Ninety-nine years after the two ladies planted the first cherry blossom trees, visitors to Washington still enjoy them, as well as the 3,000 others that subsequently joined them.
This year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival is being conducted while the original givers of this beautiful gift – the people of Japan – are struggling with unbelievable challenges and tragedies.
More than two weeks after an earthquake and a tsunami changed life for people of Japan and set off a nuclear crisis in their country, many Americans are using the National Cherry Blossom Festival to reinvigorate American donations to help the people of Japan.
For more information about the history of the cherry trees in Washington, DC, check out the National Park Service’s website.
More information about the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which runs from March 26-April 10, click here.
The American Red Cross is one of the best options for donating funds to help the people of Japan.