Orlando is one of three recipients of this year’s Survivor Tree seedlings, given out to cities that have suffered tragedies and are in need of healing – which Orlando is after the attacks on the Pulse nightclub exactly three months ago today.
The program was started in 2013 by the 9/11 Memorial in collaboration with the Bartlett Tree Export Company and John Bowne High School in Queens, the latter of which harvests the seedlings as part of its agricultural program. The recipients of the seedlings agree each year to nurture and care for the trees as they grow.
The other two recipients this year include San Bernardino, California and the country of France, for similar terrorist attacks that ravaged both places within the last year.
The seedlings eventually grow into Callery pear trees, which was the kind of tree that endured the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center buildings. After its removal from the site, battered and badly damaged, the tree was returned to the site later and recovered with smooth limbs extending from its gnarled base.
That, according to the program’s website, created “a visible demarcation between the tree’s past and present.”
“After 9/11, the Survivor Tree became a symbol of our country’s fortitude and resilience,” 9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels said. “The seedling distribution program was created in an effort to embody this spirit for communities that have endured suffering. As the trees grow and thrive, we hope they will inspire the people of France, Orlando and San Bernardino as they continue to recover and heal.”
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said the city was honored for the recognition.
“We are honored by this gift of the Survivor Tree seedling from the National September 11 Memorial & Museum,” he said. “The date of the announcement, today, September 12, on the three month anniversary of Pulse, is a particularly timely announcement as we continue to work together as community on moving forward in a meaningful way.”