The Survivor Tree, a Callery pear tree, was originally planted at the World Trade Center Complex in the 1970s. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, it was discovered in the rubble with snapped roots and a blackened truck. In 2001, the damaged tree was only eight feet tall. After being nursed back to health at a nursery in Brooklyn, the tree now stands 35 feet tall. And it lives among hundreds of other trees at the 9/11 Memorial, a national tribute of remembrance honoring the 2,983 people killed in the terror attacks.
When I visited the 9/11 Memorial this fall, I realized that the Survivor Tree is a true symbol of resilience. Both of New York City as a whole – and specifically of the neighborhood surrounding the World Trade Center. After the attacks, corporations were forced to leave the neighborhood because their offices were gone. Local businesses and restaurants closed their doors because they had no customers. And residents fled out of fear or necessity. But it wasn’t like that for long.
Like the Survivor Tree, the once damaged neighborhood is now thriving. The Freedom Tower is emerging as one of several buildings that will form the new World Trade Center. A Transportation Center is also near completion that will connect 13 subway lines and link pedestrians to ferries through an underground concourse. As I strolled through the neighborhood, I noticed many people walking around and several new businesses lining the streets.
It’s a testament to the strength of community. The ability to rebuild, revive and flourish under such difficult circumstances. In my own community of Manchester, New Hampshire, I’ve witnessed this same spirit on a smaller scale. The outpouring of support when a resident’s house burns down. Or the way my neighbors help each other shovel out after a big storm. It’s how we stay connected to one another and to our community as a whole.