‘Goodwill and Community Are What We Feel’: Newly Donated Cherry Blossom Planted as Part of Mead Park’s ‘Gold Star Walk’
Town resident Jackie Alexander, a third-generation Japanese-American, had already been looking for a place in New Canaan where her organization could donate a cherry blossom tree when she heard last fall about a need at one of the town’s most important, if little-known, memorial sites.
Established in 1945 and twice restored in the past 20 years thanks to Korean War veteran Jim Bach, among others, the “Gold Star Walk” at Mead Park is dedicated to the 38 New Canaan men who lost their lives while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II. Alexander on learning that one of the Gold Star Walk trees was dying and needed to be replaced, brought the information back to the nonprofit organization where she serves as president—the Japan Society of Fairfield County, which promotes goodwill through mutual cultural understanding between the United States and Japan—and within months the cherry blossom tree donation was approved and accepted for the site. “I’m excited about this, personally, because it’s in a time where we have a lot of protests and lot of things that we want to change, and this is something we can do to be kind and reach out and give back to our community,” said Alexander, a New Canaan resident since 1988 whose uncles served during World War II with the U.S. Army 442nd Infantry Regiment and whose father taught Japanese to U.S. soldiers. The tree planting “is significant for the fact of where we are now—it [World War II] was a war against Japan, but goodwill and community are what we feel now.”
She added, ”To me it’s a positive message. I’m proud of being an American, I’m proud of being a New Canaan resident and I think what they have done in Mead Park is beautiful.