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The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Posted by on March 30, 2011 at 8:59 pm

According to the National Park Service, yesterday marked the “Peak Bloom Date” for several thousand Yoshino Cherry trees, which line the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC.

The 2011 National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the 99th anniversary of the gift of cherry blossom trees from the country of Japan. Each year, over one million tourists flock to the nation’s capital during the last week of March and the first week of April to get a glimpse of the puffy pink blossoms of these spectacular trees.

In 1912, Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo gave 3,000 cherry trees to the city of Washington, DC. “The gift and annual celebration honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two countries,” as noted on the Festival’s website.

The United States returned the favor in 1915 with a gift of dogwood trees to the people of Japan. In 1965, two decades after the end of World War II, Lady Bird Johnson accepted 3,800 more cherry trees from Japan. Then in 1981, the “cycle of giving came full circle” when the U.S. gave cuttings from its trees to Japan to replace trees that had been destroyed during a flood.

Given the recent devastation from the earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan, maybe more cherry tree cuttings from Washington will once again be sent to the Japanese people.

Ichiro Fujisaki, the Japanese Ambassador to the U.S., spoke emotionally about the dire conditions in his country during the March 22nd Points of Light Institute tribute at the Kennedy Center, which honored former President George H. W. Bush. “We are grateful…Japan must and will come back. It means so much to us that you are standing with us. . .We will never, never forget it. ”

Competition between two companies, like that between two countries, can sometimes be fierce. But it doesn’t mean that decency and civility should be set aside.

Look for opportunities to do the right thing when your competitors are least expecting it. You may find that the favor of offering a “cherry branch” may someday be returned when you’ll need it the most.