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Root-ing for Peace

Graduate alumnus plants ‘Hiroshima’ tree on campus


On a grassy triangle between the Bridgewater State University Wellness Center and Crimson Dining Hall sits a tiny sapling. It may look unassuming, but this young tree carries a message of strength and peace: It is one of the saplings from Hiroshima’s A-bomb survivor trees.

It comes directly from a gingko tree that was 1,200 meters away from ground zero in Hiroshima, when the United States bombed the Japanese city in August 1945, effectively ending World War II.

“This tree represents a piece of history,” said Michael McCue, G’02, who donated the sapling. “That sort of resilience is remarkable.”

As a partner of Green Legacy Hiroshima (GLH), McCue has helped plant gingko trees, or what the organization calls, “ambassadors of peace,” across the Northeast. Recently, he donated one to his alma mater.

Established in 2011, GLH works with partners across the globe to spread the seeds and saplings of Hiroshima’s A-Bomb survivor trees. The project is funded by the United Nations.

With the installation, BSU joins a select international group: there are seeds and saplings growing in 40 countries.

“We are honored to be given this gift,” said BSU President Frederick W. Clark Jr. “This gingko will serve as a visual reminder to the BSU community that we continue to serve as active ambassadors in promoting a message of peace.”

McCue stumbled upon GLH when researching ways to commemorate the annual Arbor Day celebration he started in Avon as town administrator. Since planting his first gingko in Avon’s John J. DeMarco Park 15 years ago, he has planted gingko trees all over New England, including in Rochester; New Haven, Connecticut; and New Hampshire’s St. Anslem College, where he earned his bachelor’s in history.

When determining where to plant the trees, McCue said, he seeks out significant locations and chose Bridgewater because of the education he received while pursuing a master’s degree in public administration.

“I have so much respect and affection for the university,” he said. “I gained lots of experience at Bridgewater. The coursework was unbelievably helpful and crucial in terms of my career. I knew I wanted to run a town, and that’s exactly what they taught me to do.”

After graduating from BSU, he went on to have a successful career as a public servant, working as a town administrator, not only in Avon, but in Rochester and Hanson as well.

He hopes when members of the Bridgewater community walk past the gingko, they will appreciate its message of peace and resiliency.

Knowing that he’s helped to bring so many trees to different communities, and what those trees represent, means a lot, he said.

“I’m ecstatic. These trees carry such a powerful message…. Aside from having kids, being married, getting my master’s…it’s one of the things I’m most proud of,” McCue said.

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