Date published: April 1, 2012
ON MARCH 27, 1912, FIRST LADY HELEN TAFT AND VISCOUNTESS CHINDA, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the fi rst two of 3,000 cherry trees from Japan on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C.'s West Potomac Park. Those trees, replacements for a diseased 1910 shipment, took root and thrived-and in 1965 First Lady Lady Bird Johnson accepted 3,800 more trees. Today, visitors come from all over the world in March and April to enjoy their mature canopies of delicate pink blossoms. The gift and annual celebration honor the friendship between the United States and Japan-and, in the aftermath of the 2011 Japanese earthquake, includes relief fundraising efforts for Japan in cooperation with the American Red Cross.