September 19, 2016
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A unique tree is now growing behind Joseph Hall at Saint Anselm College. In a small campus ceremony on September 17, the Buildings and Grounds department planted a tree grown from the seed of one which lived through the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan in 1945, leading to the unconditional surrender of Japan and the effective end of World War II.
Saint Anselm College alumnus Michael McCue '89 secured the seed from Green Legacy Hiroshima, an initiative of a United Nations organization. Green Legacy Hiroshima's mission is to spread seeds and saplings of Hiroshima's so-called "survivor trees."
To cultivate the seed, McCue engaged Stephen Schneider, director of Operations at the Boston Arboretum, and husband of Stephanie (Naoum) Schneider '99. A former history major, McCue also worked with Professor Beth Salerno, chair of the history department, towards delivery of the small ginko tree (only about two feet high) to The Hilltop.
Salerno notes that Saint Anselm's tree is one of only eight survivor offspring east of the Mississippi River, and of those, the only one at an institution of higher education. She adds that the White House is working with Green Legacy Hiroshima to acquire a survivor tree as well. One hundred and seventy trees survived the nuclear explosion, and the one now at the college is said to have been grown from a tree located 1,500 yards from Japan's "ground zero."
In welcoming guests, Salerno shared that the tree could live more than 200 years, meaning that it will be on campus long after the planting to greet attendees' children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She also led a prayer for peace, "that this symbol of life in a place of death, hope in a time of tragedy, and peace in a world of war would cause each of us to work for peace in our day."
Matthew Masur, professor of history, described in remarks how the bombing at Hiroshima and the loss of the war caused Japan to reconsider its half century of militaristic expansion and turn strongly toward peace and pacifism. Both Professor Masur and Professor Salerno acknowledged the many U.S. soldiers and others who served and died in World War II.