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“Nurturing the Heart of Peace”

City offi cials Scott Gilmore (left) and Stacie Gilmore (third from the left) join SGI-USA members for the 31st SGI Cherry Tree Planting Ceremony, Denver, June 9. Photo by RAYNA MANGER TEDFORD.

DENVER, June 9—In an annual tradition that began in 1989, SGI-USA members of Rocky Mountain Zone celebrated the 31st SGI Cherry Tree Planting Ceremony at Sloan’s Lake Park in the Mile High City.

On hand to join them were Consulate-General of Japan in Denver Midori Takeuchi; City and County of Denver Deputy Manager of Parks Scott Gilmore; and City Council Woman Stacie Gilmore.

SGI President Ikeda, who each year gifts the cherry trees to the city, wrote a message, extending his deepest sympathies for those impacted by the recent school shooting in the Denver area. He referred to the cherry tree planting ceremony as a symbol of the participants’ efforts to create “an age of respect for the sanctity of life and a century of peace.”

“To plant a tree is to plant life,” President Ikeda wrote. “It conveys the importance of nurturing the heart of peace.” He then asked everyone to expand their bonds of friendship and work toward building a society in which “nature and humanity coexist in peace.”

The cherry tree planting ceremony began 30 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 cherry trees throughout 24 parks in Denver. “Our purpose [SGI-USA’s] is to create friendship and build bridges of peace with the city,” said Paul Niihara, the Rocky Mountain Zone Leader.

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