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Tree Survives 9/11 and a Massive Storm

Naturalist Jane Goodall tells the true story about a Callery pear tree that had been planted near Building 5 of the World Trade Center. Since the early 1970s each year the tree's delicate white blossoms had brought a touch of spring into a world of concrete. In 2001, after the 9/11 attack, this tree, like all the other trees that had been planted there, disappeared beneath the fallen towers. But amazingly, in October, a cleanup worker found her, smashed and pinned between blocks of concrete. She was decapitated and the eight remaining feet of trunk were charred black; the roots were broken; and there was only one living branch.

Initially, many observers thought the tree was unsalvageable. But the cleanup workers at Ground Zero persuaded an employee with the Parks Department to give the tree a chance, so it was sent off to nursery in the Bronx. When a nursery worker first saw the decapitated tree he did not think anything could save her. But once the dead, burned tissues had been cut away, and her trimmed roots deeply planted in good rich soil, the tree survived. The tree was given a new name—Survivor.

In the spring of 2010 disaster struck Survivor again. The tree had been ripped out of the ground by a terrible storm with 100 mile per hour winds. Once again rescue workers worked together to salvage and redeem Survivor. At first they only partially lifted the tree, packing in compost and mulch so as not to break the roots. For a long while they gently sprayed the tree with water to minimize the shock, hoping she'd make it. A few weeks later they set to work to get Survivor completely upright. Again, Survivor was resurrected from the dead.

The next year Survivor was incorporated into the 9/11 memorial. She was planted near the footprint of the South Tower. The tree was planted so that the traumatized side faces the public. Some people weren't pleased to have the tree back, saying that she "spoiled" the symmetry of the landscaping, as she is a different species from the other nearby trees. Indeed, she is different. On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, when the memorial site was opened to survivors and family members, many of them tied blue ribbons onto Survivor's branches.

Possible Preaching Angles:

(1) Redemption; Resurrection; Salvation; Rescue—This isn't just a story about survival or resiliency. Survivor's survival depended on the rescue efforts of another. She couldn't save herself. (2) Weakness—Notice how the tree's wounds (the scars from its past) became a sign of Survivor's glorious redemption.

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