U.S. Embassy in Tokyo to hold Sept. 11 ceremony, plant maple

by Sayuri Daimon

The tragedy of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States will live on in the memory of the American people, as will the memory of the spontaneous goodwill and sympathy shown by people in Japan for the victims and their families.

To express its appreciation for Japan’s warm response immediately after the attacks, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo will plant a Japanese maple tree outside its gates and hold a memorial candlelight gathering on the day of the first anniversary, U.S. government sources said recently.

After the devastating incident, U.S. embassies around the world were inundated with bouquets and expressions of sympathy for those killed in the attacks. In Tokyo, the area outside the embassy’s front gate was covered with bouquets.

Within days, the stack of bouquets had grown into a small mountain of flowers.

“We are really touched by the people who have shown such sympathy, and we want to thank them,” an embassy source said.

The maple will be planted by Nancy Baker, wife of U.S. Ambassador Howard Baker, on the morning of Sept. 11, the sources said. Howard Baker will be attending services in the U.S.

The government sources said the ashes of last year’s bouquets will be spread over the soil around the maple, and a plaque will be erected, bearing the words, “This expresses the gratitude of the United States to the friendship of Japanese people.”

A candlelight service will be held at 9:46 p.m. exactly a year from when the first airliner crashed into the World Trade Center in New York outside the embassy in remembrance of those who died in the attacks and their next of kin.

“Japanese, Americans and anyone who would like to gather with a candle and remember the moment are welcome,” the embassy source said, adding that there are no scheduled events or speeches. “Anyone who wants to say words can do so or they can just gather together and remember the moment.”