Two Buddy Bison students – Chellseas from KIPP DC: WILL Academy and Etni from Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School – joined students accompanying First Lady Michelle Obama during the Centennial Tree Planting Ceremony in Washington, DC. The ceremony honored the 100th anniversary of the planting of the first two of 3,000 cherry blossom trees given to the United States as a gift from the city of Tokyo, Japan. The First Lady was joined by other distinguished guests, including His Excellency Ichiro Fujisaki – Ambassador of Japan to the United States, Fujiko Hara – granddaughter of Tokyo's former Mayor Ozaki, who gifted the original trees, and William H. Taft, IV – great-grandson of President Taft, who was in office when the trees were given to the United States. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was also in attendance and acknowledged the National Park Service's work to maintain the health of the cherry blossom trees throughout the years.
The First Lady stated that the trees "serve as a great symbol of the shared friendship between the United States and Japan and a symbol of our hope and aspirations." On the historic anniversary, she also spoke of our country's admiration for the beauty and resilience of the trees just as we admire the resilience of the Japanese people and their courage and grace as they rebuild their nation. (Group photo credit: Tami Heilemann)