One can only imagine the grim job that 9/11 workers had at Ground Zero, working day in and day out to clean up the wreckage of such devastation. And one can only imagine the surprise they must have felt when, a month into the job, they discovered a bit of life sticking out from the rubble – the charred remains of a callery pear tree.
With little more than a few leaves issuing from a single branch – with snapped roots and burned and broken boughs – this perseverant tree was sent to Van Cortlandt Park for convalescence under the care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Park workers say they were not sure the tree would make it, but the little tree that could, did. In the spring of 2002 she sprouted a riot of leaves; a dove made a nest in her boughs.
When Ronaldo Vega was hired as special project manager in 2007, he remembered the story of the tree and went to the Bronx to find it. “I fell in love with her the second I saw her,” he recounts in the video below. “She was a fighter. We knew she was going to come back here.”
And so after nine years of rehab in Bronx, the Survivor Tree went home. Planted at the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum, it thrives amongst a solemn place that is filled with both memories and life. Scarred but robust, she offers her branches to birds and shade to passersby… and remains a potent reminder of resilience in the face of destruction.
“New, smooth limbs extended from the gnarled stumps, creating a visible demarcation between the tree’s past and present,” notes the Museum. “Today, the tree stands as a living reminder of resilience, survival and rebirth.”
You can more of the story in the video below… and if you ever make it to the memorial, giver her a visit and say hello.