Why Did Stark Park Receive The Gift Of A Cherry Tree?
The year was 1905, the location was Portsmouth, NH; the Russians signed a peace treaty with the Japanese to end the two-year long Russo-Japanese War, fought over Manchuria and Korean territories. President Teddy Roosevelt was awarded the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to forge peace between the two imperial nations, which averted the possibility of a world-wide war.
A grateful Japanese nation sent a gift to President Roosevelt in 1912 of more than 3,000 cherry trees. These trees can live and bloom for a century or more, and many of the trees around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC are from the original successful stock. There is, of course, much more to this very interesting piece of history than space can allow, so we encourage you to look up “the rest of the story” up on the internet. Or better yet, attend an excellent NH Humanities Council presentation by Charles Doleac.
But how does Stark Park fit into the picture? Turns out that while the Japanese delegation was in Portsmouth hammering out a treaty, they visited Manchester to see the great Amoskeag Mills, which they had heard so much about. They were also notably impressed by the warmth and friendliness of the citizens who lined the streets when the delegations passed by. “Citizen Diplomacy”, as Doleac calls it.
Fast forward to 2012 – A century later, an effort is underfoot to recognize the tremendous importance of this early effort to encourage world peace and to acknowledge the effect of Citizen Diplomacy. So grafts from the original cherry trees are being distributed to all the locations that had an impact on the peace delegations at Portsmouth. You can see one of these saplings, which was planted last year, in Stark Park.