The Tree That Would Not Be Broken

By | June 17, 2014

For a few years, the 9/11 Survivor Tree was lost.

Well, not really lost. Richie Cabo, horticulturalist for the Parks Department, knew exactly where it was. Since shortly after 9/11/01, he had been taking loving care of the Callery pear tree at a nursery in the Bronx. But Ron Vega of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum had no idea where the tree was. And he wanted to bring it home.

Vega had heard rumors of the Survivor Tree’s existence from co-workers. Its story had taken on almost mythic proportions: the last living thing to come out of the rubble of Ground Zero, a charred stump that, to an untrained eye, looked dead. Apparently, someone from some governmental agency was taking care of the tree, although no one knew who or where. Eventually, after a lot of asking around, Vega tracked down the Survivor Tree and set in motion its second act.

“The 9/11 Survivor Tree” story will ultimately become part of a feature-length documentary, “The Trees,” about the design and construction of the 9/11 Memorial plaza. Visit the film’s Kickstarter campaign to learn more.

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Scott Elliott is an award-winning documentary film director. His work has played on PBS, at major festivals around the world, the New Museum, The Film Society of Lincoln Center, and in all the nooks and crannies of the Internet. Learn more about his latest project here.

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