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Nurturing Seeds of Friendship

Peace and Community

Members of Rocky Mountain Zone participate in the 30th SGI Cherry Tree Planting Ceremony, Denver, May 20. They sowed 50 trees this year. Photo by Taka Kamata.

DENVER, May 20—In an annual tradition that began in 1989, SGI-USA members of Rocky Mountain Zone celebrated the 30th SGI Cherry Tree Planting Ceremony on May 20 at Denver’s City of Takayama Park.

On hand to celebrate were Denver Mayor Michael Hancock; Consul General of Japan in Denver Hiroto Hirakoba; and Denver Parks and Recreation Manager Allegra “Happy” Haynes.

SGI President Ikeda sent a congratulatory message, saying in part, “Just like the beautiful cherry blossoms of Denver, I ask that you continue nurturing luxuriant flowers of happiness and joy throughout this community surrounded by the Rocky Mountains.” He also reminded the members that there are no deadlocks in faith, adding that no matter what hardships they may encounter, they should “surmount them all with dignity and composure.”

During the ceremony, SGI representatives presented two books by President Ikeda—The Courage to Dream and Reaching Beyond—to Mayor Hancock and also invited him to the SGI-USA Denver Culture Center for a future meeting with the youth. When they shared with him about the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival, he remarked, “How wonderful.”

The outdoor event also featured a thunderous taiko performance by local Ikeda Youth Ensemble members.

The cherry tree planting ceremony began 29 years ago, when the current SGI-USA Denver Culture Center first opened. And, in June 1996, members planted a cherry tree with President Ikeda during his visit to the center. On that trip, he also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Denver.

Sowing 50 trees this year, local members have now assisted in planting 2,252 cherry trees throughout the Mile High City.

“How significant it was that we celebrated the 30th planting ceremony in this most important year of the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival,” said Rocky Mountain Zone Leader Paul Niihara. “And that we were able to truly show the city of Denver the spirit and humanism of the SGI.”

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