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Cherry Blossom Festival Gains New Meaning

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Organizers of the National Cherry Blossom Festival called on members  of the public to show support for Japan during this year's event.
Jessica Gould
Organizers of the National Cherry Blossom Festival called on members of the public to show support for Japan during this year's event.

In 1912, Japan gave the United States thousands of cherry blossom trees. And ever since, the National Cherry Blossom Festival has symbolized the relationship between the two countries. But this year, festival president Diana Mayhew says, it has a special meaning.

"The cherry blossoms symbolize birth, renewal and now rebuilding for Japan," she says.

So, festival organizers have set up donation boxes at the foot of the Washington Monument, and are calling on visitors to show their support. Mary Kearns, who is half-Japanese, says it's a fitting tribute.

"Part of the beauty of the cherry blossoms to the Japanese is the fleeting quality," she says. "They come and they go in a very short time span. It's kind of like life itself. There's kind of a bittersweet beauty to it. There's sadness, but there's also hope and joy."

So, bundled against the wind, she walks toward the Tidal Basin. It's cold out. But the cherry blossoms have begun to bloom anyway. And that, she says, is hopeful in itself.

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