Trees have a significant symbolic role in our society. The oak tree evokes courage and strength, the olive tree represents peace, and the cherry tree symbolizes awakenings and rebirth. And, of course, there is the the evergreen pine or fir tree, which is used by many around the holidays and known as the Tree of Life.

It is no mistake or coincidence that trees have developed this symbolic nature. They provide clean air and water, shade when its hot, fire when its cold, and wood to shelter us. Their strength, resilience, and generosity inspires us (think, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein). The inspiration is particularly relevant as we reflect on the two-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. Thanks to our friends at the 9/11 Memorial, we share a narrative of resilience and strength with New York City and other communities around the world. This narrative is told and shared through the comeback of one Callery Pear tree discovered at Ground Zero in October 2001.

When the pear tree was found, it was severely burnt, the canopy destroyed, and its bark was charred. Amazingly, however, leaves still sprouted, and this tree’s perseverance gave the recovery workers hope. The tree was  replanted on Veterans Day in 2001 and watched over with  great care. The Survivor tree quietly, but remarkably, grew in 8 years from 8 feet to 30 feet. New bark, new leaves and branches grew out the trees scars. It was a symbol of  survival, renewal, and strength after 9/11.

The Survivor Tree at the WTC in November 2001. Credit: The 9/11 Memorial

The Survivor Tree at the WTC in November 2001. Credit: The 9/11 Memorial

The Survivor Tree was replanted in 2010 at the National September 11 Memorial. It is the lone pear tree among 120 oak trees, and is the only tree to have witnessed the tragedy and subsequent resilience of a city and its people. Mayor Bloomberg suggested collecting seeds and growing saplings, allowing descendants of the survivor tree to live on. The National 9/11 Memorial took great care in creating  saplings from the tree and designated the saplings to three resilient communities that embody the spirit of the survivor tree.

In 2013, Boston was named a recipient City for an offspring of the tree. Boston’s Survivor Tree was planted last Spring at the Public Garden adjacent to the Garden of Remembrance dedicated to Massachusetts victims of the 9/11 attacks. Last May, Mayor Martin J. Walsh dedicated the 9/11 Survivor Tree to the Mass 9/11 Fund Memorial and unveiled the tree’s plaque at the Garden of Remembrance in the Boston Public Garden.

Survivor Tree in April 2010. Credit: 9/11 Memorial

Survivor Tree in April 2010. Credit: 9/11 Memorial

We share this story in honor of One Boston Day, a new tradition that celebrates the generosity, strength, and resiliency of the residents of Boston. Join us this Wednesday afternoon at the Survivor Tree, as we take part in the moment of silence at 2:49 PM to mark the two-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings.

“One Boston Day” will encourage random acts of kindness and spreading goodwill. The new tradition came together in compilation with the desire expressed by many survivors to pass on the kindness and support they received following the 2013 Boston Marathon.

We encourage everyone to share how they are marking “One Boston Day” on social media using the hashtag #OneBostonDay.


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