First lady Michelle Obama marked the centennial of Washington’s Japanese cherry blossoms Tuesday morning by reenacting the first planting of the trees in a ceremony along the Potomac River.
On a cold morning on the riverbank, the first lady was joined by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar — wearing a white cowboy hat — Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, and the president of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Diana Mayhew.
Obama shoveled dirt over a five-year-old cherry tree sapling that had been set in the earth several hundred yards from the Tidal Basin site of the first planting.
She spoke of the “magic” of the blossoms, whose “beauty stirs our souls.”
The event commemorated the March 27, 1912, planting of the first cherry trees on the basin by then-first lady Helen Taft and then-Japanese ambassador Sutemi Chinda and his wife, Iwa.
Also present was Fujiko Hara, granddaughter of Yukio Ozaki, who, as mayor of Tokyo, helped arrange the donation of the first 3,000 trees, and William H. Taft IV, great-grandson of the former president and first lady.