As the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki soberly reflect on the destruction of their cities and communities by atomic bombs 75 years ago this August, the City of Cockburn marked the occasion for the 35th consecutive year by planting trees in the name of peace at a local park.
Today, Anning Park in South Lake received a boost to its long-term tree canopy when school students from the Fremantle Education District planted 20 mature ornamental pear (Pyrus calleryana "Chanticleer") trees.
They join the hundreds of trees planted over the years throughout Cockburn for this annual event which began with the planting of Japanese cherry blossom trees near where Peace Park stands today, on the corner of Adela Place and Spearwood Avenue, also known as Friendship Way.
This year’s ceremony began with a symbolic release of white doves by City of Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett and Deputy Consulate-General of Japan in Perth, Mr Naoki Semmyo, before they joined local students for the planting.
The two white doves flew above proceedings before turning east and back into the arms of their owner, registered homing pigeon breeder Ray Johnson of Maddington, a member of the Armadale-Kelmscott Pigeon Racing Club.
Also in attendance was former Cockburn councillor Nola Waters, who with the late Don Miguel OAM - Freeman of the City and former Cockburn Mayor - were the driving force behind the 1 July, 1986 Cockburn Council decision to begin an annual commemoration of Hiroshima Day.
Following the tree-planting, the City held a morning tea for the students who enjoyed a reading of historical novel Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
by Eleanor Coerr, followed by learning how to make origami paper cranes, or Orizuru as they are called in Japanese.
Mayor Howlett said the hundreds of trees planted across the City over the past 35 years continued to flourish.
“They symbolise the strength of our friendship with Japan and its people and reflect the nature of our growing relationship as we reach out in terms of trade, education, tourism and cultural exchange,” Mayor Howlett said.
“They are also a fitting tribute to the ‘hibakusha’, the surviving victims of the atomic bombs which fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
“The hibakusha survived the immediate effects of the devastating bombs, but suffered from the effects of radiation sickness, loss of family and friends, and discrimination."
Last year Mayor Howlett signed the ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) Cities Appeal on behalf of the City of Cockburn. This is a global call from cities and towns in support of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons adopted by the United Nations in 2017, and other supportive cities include Sydney, Melbourne, Paris, Washington DC and Berlin.
The Treaty has the support of 122 countries, but Australia has not yet joined the Treaty.
In 2011, Cockburn Council endorsed the Mayor’s request to join the Mayors for Peace organisation, with its membership pledge stating the City’s support for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
The City will also commemorate the United Nations International Day of Peace with local students on 21 September by planting a Ginkgo biloba sapling at Yandi Park, Cockburn Central.
The sapling originates from seeds from the Ginkgo biloba trees that survived the atomic bombing in Hiroshima on 6 August, 1945.
The UN General Assembly has devoted the day to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.
Erin and Sam from Beeliar Primary School with Deputy Consul-General of Japan in Perth, Mr Naoki Semmyo and Mayor Logan Howlett.
Title page - Jandakot Primary School students.