Guidelines: The Survivor Tree


By Simon Ambit

In the popular country song by Alan Jackson, he sings of the events that took place 15 years ago. In an attempt to describe the emotions that ran rampant that day during the destruction of 9/11/01, he wrote:

“Where were you when the world stopped turnin’ that September Day?
Did you weep for the children, they lost their dear loved ones,
Pray for the ones who don’t know?
Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below?
Did you burst out in pride for the red, white, and blue
And heroes who died just doin’ what they do?
Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself and what really matters?”

If you are old enough to recall the event, then I’ll bet you can describe in detail what you saw, felt and experienced that morning. What I learned last year about a vastly unknown story concerning “Ground Zero” is an inspiration to me.

During the cleanup of the Twin Towers in New York City, crews discovered a 30-year-old tree that had been present during the devastation. It had survived the incident but not without severe damage. The tree had all of its upper limbs torn off or shattered, and was carved down to be little more than eight feet tall.

Crews loaded what remained of the tree and hauled it to the Arthur Ross Nursery in The Bronx to be nurtured and cared for. It was considered by the nursery to be mortally wounded and it was unknown at the time whether it would survive the trauma.

Nursery staff cared for the tree and helped its wounds to heal. The tree became known as “The Survivor Tree,” and in December of 2010, the tree was taken back to location where it thrives now as part of the 9/11 memorial in New York City.

“If you look at it from far away, you never could tell that anything is wrong with it,” nursery manager Richie Cabo said of the Survivor Tree. “You have to actually go up close, take a look at the bark, where the crown started growing again. That will tell you the story. That’s when you will say wow; this tree really went through something.”

The tree is now back home and doing well. Each spring season, it can be found arrayed in beautiful healthy blossoms. It is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

To me, the tree represents the strength of America and the great people that live between her shores. We can be damaged, but not destroyed. We can be slowed, but not stopped. We are planted in too good of soil and grown from too great of roots to ever give up. We have the strength to rise from any ashes. Life is good, keep on growing.

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