More than a month following the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center, rescue workers found a life under the rubble, still holding on. It was a pear tree. Its roots and branches were twisted and broken, but all hope was not lost. The rescue workers decided to save this life too. It would be known as the "Survivor Tree".
The small tree was removed from Ground Zero and sent to a nursery in the Bronx. Even though it was still alive and in the hands of caring professionals, there was little hope for its continued survival. For years, New York's Arthur Ross Nursery in Van Cortlandt Park took care of the Callery pear tree. By 2010, the staff thought the sturdy tree might survive being replanted once more – back at Ground Zero.
The Survivor Tree was replanted at the site of its near-demise once more as part of a 9/11 Memorial Ceremony in 2010. The tree is far from perfect, as one can clearly see the memory of the trauma the tree once suffered. Its new branches shoot off of a stump that reminds all of New York and the United States that wounds can heal, but memories remain.
The tree, found at 911 Greenwich Street in Lower Manhattan, still survives. In its new home, the tree grows more and more as time goes on, thriving in the same soil where it nearly died along with some 3,000 American civilians and first responders. What's most unique about this memorial is that it shares the hope of survival with communities that experience devastating losses in their own way.
The 9/11 Memorial gives three seedlings from the Survivor Tree to communities coping with tragedy of all kinds. The seedlings are then planted as a sign of hope and the possibilities of renewal and recovery. Seedlings from the Survivor Tree have been sent all over the world.
Boston's 9/11 Survivor Tree Sapling was planted at the Boston Public Gardens.
• Boston, Mass., in honor of the three people killed in the bombing at its marathon on
April 15, 2013.
• Prescott, Ariz., in honor of the 19 firefighting members of the Granite Mountain
Hotshots who died on June 30, 2013. The fires in Arizona resulted in the highest
number of American firefighters killed in a single incident since 9/11.
• Gulfport, Miss., to remember those who died in the region devastated by Hurricane
Katrina in August 2005.
• Newtown, Conn., in memory of the 20 school children and six adults who were killed
on Dec. 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
• Joplin, Mo., in memory of the more than 150 people killed and more than 1,000 injured by a tornado in Joplin on May 22, 2011. The seedling for Joplin will be planted at Mercy Hospital Joplin, which was in the direct path of the tornado.
• Madrid, Spain, in memory of the 2004 coordinated terror bombings against the
Cercanías commuter train system of Madrid that killed 190 people and wounded 1,800.
The actual planting of the tree is expected to take place at Spain's embassy in
Washington, D.C. Madrid is the first international recipient in the program.
• Orlando, Fl., in memory of the 49 people killed and 58 injured at Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016. The seedling has been planted at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando.
• The country of France, in memory of the 139 people killed and 368 people injured in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, and the 86 people killed and 434 injured in the Bastille Day attacks in Nice on July 14, 2016. The seedling has been planted in Paris, France.
• Manchester, England, in memory of the 22 people, including young adults and children, who were killed by a terrorist bombing at an Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017.
• Charleston, S.C., in memory of the nine people killed in a shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
• The country of Haiti, which was devastated by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. The Embassy of Haiti in Washington, D.C. will accept the Survivor Tree seedling on behalf of its country.
• Parkland, Fla., where a gunman killed 17 people in February 2018, including students and staff members, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
• London, in memory of those who lost their lives, and on behalf of the bereaved, survivors and all those affected by the tragic Grenfell Tower fire.
• Puerto Rico, after the catastrophic Hurricane Maria, which left an estimated 2,975 people dead in its wake.