Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Gernika's Sapling in Elko

The Tree of Gernika is a strong identity symbols for the Basque people around the world, this is why there is an effort to bring a sapling of the original tree to each corner of the globe were a Basque community is located. This article found at the Elko Daily tells us about the one in that city:

Tree of Gernika sapling takes root in Elko

By JARED DuBACH - Lifestyles Editor
Monday, April 30, 2007 3:02 PM PDT

ELKO — Amid the distinct sound of Basque tongues and the wafting aroma of grilling lamb chops, members of the Elko Basque Club, friends and family gathered Saturday at the Basque Clubhouse to dedicate a recently planted sapling from the Tree of Gernika.

Event coordinator Jess Lopategui said the tree represents hundreds of thousands of years of freedom.

“The government was based on honesty and hard work,” Lopategui said.

Gernika was a major hub for the Basque country. Meetings were held and treaties signed under the vast groves of oak trees that grew around the city. Each new king of Spain would travel to the Basque country to uphold the old treaty, which said the Basques would hold loyalty to the king as long as they were free to govern themselves.

Eventually, the sheltered tree would be the only thing standing after the German Condor Legion bombed Gernika on April 26, 1937.

Lopategui said the club is also working on planting another tree — an aspen to commemorate the importance of Basque shepherds. Aspen trunks with Basque names and icons carved into them are already at the clubhouse, waiting to be arranged with the tree.

After Lopategui’s speech, the crowd was led by Maite Moiola in the song “Gernikako Arbola.” Moiola said she was born in Bermeo, Biscaya, but feels closer to the old country now that the sapling has been planted at the clubhouse.

“I’ve sung this song for a long time,” Moiola said.

Another sapling from the Tree of Gernika was planted in the Elko Peace Park Thursday in memory of the bombing’s 70th anniversary.

Bob Echeverria said the planting of the saplings in Elko is a good thing because the Tree of Gernika is an important part of Basque tradition and culture.

Mayor Mike Franzoia said descendants of the tree have been planted all around the world by Basques in their yards to help keep the Tree of Gernika alive, both philosophically and literally, in the event the main tree dies from disease. Many are in Boise, which is where the saplings at the clubhouse and in the Elko Peace Park originated.

The Basque government recently sent a message to Basques worldwide to promote peace and human rights.

For 90-year-old Mary Etcheberry, the bombing of Gernika had a lasting effect on her life. Etcheberry was teaching in France as a young woman when the bombing occurred. From France, Etcheberry went to Italy and onto the United States in 1940, where she first married Frank Jayo and later Sam Etcheberry.

“This is something nice,” Etcheberry said of the ceremony. “I came here to celebrate this.”

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