Sixteen years after September 11, the Twin Towers may no longer be standing, but in their place is a testament to the unbreakable strength of the human spirit: the Survivor Tree. To memorialize the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives that day stands a tree whose tale mirrors America's own quest for peace after a tragedy.
"During the attacks in 2001, the World Trade Center, when it collapsed it feel on the tree and it decapitated it. When they were doing the clean-up at the World Trade, somebody noticed it amongst the rubble," Richie Cabo, a horticulturist and manager of the Citywide Nursery said.
Despite the chaos that surrounded the tree, a Callery pear, it began to grow leaves. Trees do not typically give off leaves, Ronaldo Vega, the senior director of design at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, says, "unless a tree is dying and wants to live; unless a tree wants to show the world, 'I still have life.'"
The 8-foot tree, was moved to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, in a state that Robert Zappala, the former manager of Citywide Nursery, describes as "mortally wounded." "All the upper branches on this tree was [sic] shattered and torn off," Zappala says.
Many thought the tree would not survive, but after nine years of rehab, the pear tree was thriving. According to Cabo, a dove —often a symbol of peace — made a nest in the center. In December of 2010, Vega and his team worked to bring the tree back to its home.
Today, the tree still stands. If you look closely, you can see the rough, cracked bark at its base, which stands in stark contrast to the smooth branches that have grown since 9/11. The difference marks this tree's life before and after tragedy, much like the scars the rest of America bears after such an event.
To learn more about the Survivor Tree, watch the video below