It was just about a month after the 9/11 attacks when a survivor was discovered amidst the ruins. A Callery pear tree was rescued, barely alive, from the rubble by recovery workers. The tree’s branches, snapped and mangled, looked pitiful. The tree’s trunk was blackened from fire and soot. Its roots, having been violently ripped from the ground, helplessly flailed in the breeze.
Was it worth saving? Yes. At a time when the entire country witnessed so much death and destruction, saving the Survivor Tree was worth the effort. The New York City Department of Parks took the tree and was determined to nurse it back to health.
The tree was eventually returned to the 9/11 Memorial site. Many of the tree’s branches made a full recovery. Other branches remain twisted and misshaped as a testament to the horror it once withstood. The tree is both a look back to unbearable sorrow and a look forward to better days filled with hope.
If you plan a trip to New York City, you will probably see the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. I encourage you to take the time to find and view the Survivor Tree, as well. It’s a good reminder of hope—hope for peace in our violent world.
The Survivor Tree seedling program
Every year, the now-healthy Survivor Tree produces seedlings. The 9/11 Memorial gives those seedlings to communities that have recently experienced tragedy or loss. Those who receive seedlings plant them so that others will know of the community’s resilience and hope for the future, even while never forgetting their tragic past.
It’s personal for me
The recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, impacted me personally. While I didn’t know any of the children or teachers who died, I do know what it’s like to teach. I know how deeply a teacher grows to care for his or her students. I understand the responsibility we feel in keeping our precious students safe from harm.
Unfortunately, I’ve experienced the death of a student, though not by the hand of a gunman. Cancer snatched my student’s life away. The grief was overwhelming. To think of a classroom of children suddenly gone forever brings me to my knees. Knowing that fellow educators died is also devastating.
I’m not writing this to make a political statement. I just wanted you to know about the Survivor Tree. Because we all need comfort and hope. For today. For tomorrow.