No lie: You can plant a cherry tree to celebrate history

I received my first official e-mail about the 2011 National Cherry Blossom Festival last June. In December the e-mails began to come more regularly.

But it wasn’t until the temperature hit 75 on Friday and I began to contemplate the severity of this year’s annual Washington, D.C., President’s Day winter storm that the idea of another annual Cherry Blossom Festival became a possibility in my mind.

Cherry blossoms at night along the Tidal Basin with the Washington Monument in the distance.

Used by permission from the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Cherry trees, of course, had an important heritage in the D.C. area long before Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo gave 3,000 cherry trees to our nation’s capital in 1912. This President’s Day weekend — like every other — we remember the lie that George Washington cut down a cherry tree and admitted his crime when confronted by his father. That cherry tree lie began a tradition that carries on to our present day.

It also began the lie that our favorite presidents don’t lie, a tradition that also carries down to the present day.

Thankfully, you no longer have to live in or visit Washington, D.C., to experience firsthand the blossoms of a cherry tree or the lies by and about our presidents. Now, “for the first time, the Festival has partnered with Arbor Day Foundation in a nationwide, year-round tree planting program that will bring the trees directly to you,” declares the National Cherry Blossom Festival. You can purchase a Japanese flowering cherry tree, also known as the Yoshino, which is the species planted around D.C.’s Tidal Basin, for $8.98. If you want to go cheap, you can get the Sandcherry Western for $4.98. Want to plant to impress? The Arbor Day Foundation has four varieties priced at $12.98.

A portion of the proceeds goes to support the festival, of course.

So buy and plant now so that by next President’s Day your very own cherry tree will be large enough that your very own tyke can cut it down. Because in America, anyone can grow up to be president and lie and be lied about. It really is the pits.

Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications. Reach him at


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