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Celebrating AAPI History through the Cherry Blossoms – Pic of the Week

Washington, D.C.’s cherry blossom trees reached peak bloom at the end of March of this year, bringing springtime to the region. This week’s Pic of the Week is a close-up of one of these beautiful trees.

Small cluster of light pink cherry blossoms at the end of a skinny branch. Focus is on the flowers, with a grassy field, the Potomac River, and the DC city skyline in the background. The sun is rising and the sky is blue and gold.

Close-up photo of a cluster of cherry blossom flowers at sunrise. The DC Wharf is in the background. Photo by Bailey DeSimone.

On May 1, 2012, President Barack Obama’s proclamation for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month recognized two major anniversaries. The first was the 70th anniversary of Executive Order No. 9066 (published in 7 Fed. Reg. 1407), which was later enforced through the passage of the law at ch.191, 56 Stat. 173, “An act to provide a penalty for violation of restriction or orders with respect to persons entering, remaining in, leaving, or committing any act in military areas or zones.” These actions authorized the forced relocation and internment of Japanese immigrants and Japanese-Americans living in the United States during World War II. President Obama also posthumously awarded civil rights activist Gordon Hirabayashi, who fought against this law in the Supreme Court case Hirabayashi v. United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The second anniversary commemorated was the centennial of the planting of the first cherry blossom trees in Washington, D.C. Cherry blossom trees serve as an “enduring symbol of the friendship shared between the United States and Japan.”

The Law Library of Congress’s collections contain many interesting references to the cherry blossoms and their significance. Kelly wrote about the first arrival of cherry blossom trees and the resulting Plant and Quarantine Act of 1912. Using the Guide to Law Online, I learned a bit more about D.C.’s connections to the cherry blossoms, including cherries being the official fruit of the city. The Law Library also has a guide to researching executive documents, including presidential proclamations and executive orders.

Close-up photo of a flowering branch of cherry blossoms. Blossoms are light pink and whitish-pink, and the blue sky is visible in the space between the flower petals.

Close-up of a blooming branch of cherry blossoms. Photo by Bailey DeSimone.

I took these photographs in East Potomac Park, an extension of the National Mall, right after sunrise. A photographer across the street from me asked if I had been asked for a photography permit upon entering the park. I said no, as all the equipment I had was my phone camera.

I was curious, and checked the National Park Service’s website for more information. A decision from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Price v. Barr on January 22, 2021 determined that “the permit and fee requirements applying to commercial filming under 54 U.S.C. 100905, 43 C.F.R. Part 5, and 36 C.F.R. Part 5.5 are unconstitutional.” Currently, the National Park Service is applying interim regulations while the policy undergoes revision.

Luckily, since my photos were not for commercial use, I am able to share some of my favorite cherry blossom trees today.

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