9/11's Survivor Tree
The last living thing to be rescued from the site of Ground Zero twenty years ago is now called the "Survivor Tree." It's a callery pear tree, one of many planted in Manhattan over the years. About thirty years old in 2001, its upper branches above the main trunk were shattered by the fall of the Twin Towers. It was reduced to a stump with broken and burned branches, no more than eight feet tall. Although it was considered "mortally wounded," it was moved to a Bronx nursery, where it was replanted and carefully nurtured. The following spring, new branches began to grow from the broken ends. In December 2010, it was moved back to Ground Zero, where it now stands, over thirty feet tall, blossoming profusely every spring, and capable of living for another 30 or 40 years. (It is pictured on the cover. See also: youtube.com/watch?v=5bLw6bREcbU.)
We instinctively consider this tree more remarkable than any of the other trees planted at the World Trade Center site. We may take life for granted, but when life resurges after suffering wounds, it elicits our wonder and admiration. We more highly esteem those who overcome suffering and adversity.
James M. Kushiner is the Executive Editor of Touchstone.
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