For over a century, the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC have heralded the arrival of Spring. This year, the cherry blossoms take on special meaning in the wake of the overwhelming events in Japan.

3,000 cherry trees were a gift of friendship to the United States from Japan in 1912. Today, the trees are a symbol of hope and renewal as the U.S. responds to Japan’s time of need.

Organizers of the festival held a vigil for victims of the earthquake and tsunami of March 11.

DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton said the cherry blossoms will be a reminder of Japan’s resiliency. “This year, the cherry blossoms will remind the world to stand for Japan,” Norton said.

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