A Survival Story: The Survivor Tree

(bird singing) We learn about wars and stuff, but this actually happened
when we were alive and I remember the day. Such a tragic event,
and then something that survived and is still alive,
it’s just so cool to see. RICHIE CABO:
It’s the survivor tree. It’s a Callery pear
that survived the attacks on the World Trade Center. During the attacks in 2001,
the World Trade Center, when it collapsed, it fell on the tree
and it decapitated it. When they were doing
the clean-up at the World Trade, somebody noticed it
amongst the rubble. It had one branch still alive. This branch right over here was poking
out of the debris field, and it had given off
some leaves. Now, trees don’t give off leaves
in October, unless a tree is dying
and wants to live, unless a tree wants to show
the world, “I still have life.” The decision was made to bring
it to Van Cortlandt Park so that we could try to nurse it
back to health. When the tree first came in
and I saw it, I didn’t think it would survive. And my boss, he said he thought
it would survive, and he showed us how to take
care of it, and we all did. And the next spring when
the buds started to come out you could see there was life
in the tree, and there was actually a dove
that had laid a nest in the center of it. VEGA: 2007, when I got hired as
a construction project manager, I had remembered the story about the fact
that we salvaged a tree, and I wanted to find this tree. So I went up to the Bronx
to find it, and I fell in love with her
the second I saw her. She was a fighter. And so we knew she was going
to come back here. CABO: It was really amazing
to see the tree come back here. I wanted to make sure that
it got here okay, you know. You can look at this dark, deep,
burrowed bark at the bottom. And then all of a sudden
there’s a transition to a very smooth bark. And these are all brand new
growth after 9/11. This is 9/11 and before,
tells a story of what happened on this site,
and this tells you the damage from 9/11 itself and this is all a brand new
growth after 9/11. And so this presentation
of its very skin, it talks about
the horror of that day and the healing, recovery
of that day as well. This tree is still here
like we are still here. And this tree is thriving
and surviving. There’s no reason why we can’t. I would say resilience. Because United States
is resilient. And I think it’s amazing
for it to just bloom and show what America
is going to do in the future. So thank you, God. CABO:
Whoever imagined there would be such an important symbol for
America and for New York City? VEGA: And she was the last
living thing to leave this site, and she’s here right back.

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