— Joyce Kilmer, an American poet who died in 1918, wrote a famous poem called Trees. It opens with: “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.” In 2013, if alive, he could have written about a tree that loves life and defeated tragedy. One New York tree survived the 9-11 terrorist attack.
On September 11, 2001, after the attack on New York's World Trade Center, all that remained was death and destruction. But, there was a surprise. One sole tree survived.
It stands today in the midst of the September 11 Memorial in lower Manhattan, strong and very much alive. It wasn’t expected to live.
Richie Cabo from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department said rescue workers found it under the rubble and decided to bring it to the city’s largest nursery. "The tree was a 30-foot tree. When the buildings fell on it, it got decapitated. So when we got it it was only about seven feet tall, and had like three branches and a few leaves on it."
Cabo and his team stabilized the tree and it spent nine years in the nursery.
“You can see that this is prior to 9/11 and after it is the new growth, the smooth bark. So this tree tells exactly what happened to it,” he said.
Two years ago, the tree - a variety called Callery pear - was returned to its rightful place, along with transplanted trees.
Related storify of social media images of the September 11 Tribute in Light
Eddie Gindi, an executive at the nearby Century 21 discount department store, couldn’t wait to see it. “And, I went back to my office, and I actually shed a few tears, and these lyrics came out and I wrote this song.” And he produced a music video.
“And it survived it, persevered. It made it much like I did through that time, much like my company did, much like New York did, much like America did," said Gindi.
On a recent day, Gindi met up with Richie Cabo at the Memorial. “You guys of the Parks Department, and I mean this from my heart, and I said this before, you’re heroes," said Gindi to Cabo.
Century 21 is selling the "Survivor Tree" recording to raise funds for Tuesday’s Children, an organization that supports those directly affected by the attacks: children and families of the people killed on that day. More than $200,000 dollars has been raised.