Friday, September 22, 2023


Our country must find hope within the Survivor Tree

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.

Worth saving?

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.


Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


  1. Gail, very well written, invasive species aside. 😉

    I wish, with your writing talent, that you did more stories like this, as well as your “Americana” type articles, instead of things like “20 ways to reuse burnt match sticks!” 🙂

    You, and Nanci as well, have a writing gift that can really come through with the right topic!

  2. Pyrus calleryana, or the Callery pear, is a species of pear tree native to China and Vietnam, in the family Rosaceae. It is most commonly known for its cultivar ‘Bradford’, widely planted throughout the United States and increasingly regarded as an invasive species.

    South Carolina will become only the second state in the United States to ban the nursery sale of Bradford pear trees and any other pear trees grown on the commonly used Pyrus calleryana rootstock.
    The ban on sales will begin Oct. 1, 2024, which is the annual nursery licensing renewal date in South Carolina. Ohio will become the first state on Jan. 1, 2023, after passing regulations banning the sale of the species in 2018 with a 5-year grandfathering period.
    The program is open to all residents and businesses in Tippecanoe County. People with either a Callery pear tree or a burning bush can apply to receive one of eight native tree


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.