The September 11 Memorial monument at the Heroes Memorial Park courtyard. Photo by Brent Woronoff
Palm Coast Observer
Less than month after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, a badly damaged Callery pear tree was discovered buried in the ruins.
The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation nursed what became known as the “Survivor Tree” back to health, and in 2010 it was replanted at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum site.
The Palm Coast Fire Department recently received a 10-foot seedling from the tree, which the city has planted at Heroes Memorial Park, across the courtyard from the granite monument honoring the 2,973 people who lost their lives in the Sept. 11 terror attacks 20 years ago.
The seedling will be dedicated during a 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, at Heroes Memorial Park, 2860 Palm Coast Parkway NW.
“It will make the 20th anniversary much more memorable now that we have something from New York City here,” said Fire Department Lt. Patrick Juliano, who is coordinating the ceremony.
Juliano said the city of St. Augustine received a grant for a Survivor Tree seedling with the stipulation that it find sister cities that also agree to plant and nurture a seedling in a public setting.
“Our Heroes Memorial Park is the optimum place,” Juliano said. “We already have a Sept. 11 memorial there.”
The Survivor Tree in New York has smooth limbs growing out of gnarled branches, telling the story of its past and present.
“The tree is a remarkable thing. It's a reminder of resilience and survival,” Juliano said. “We’re now 20 years removed from this, and we’ll never forget. This is a living reminder that through tragedy there is rebirth. There is renewal.”
Callery pear is a species of tree native to China and Vietnam. The Survivor Tree was 8 feet tall when it was discovered in the rubble of the towers and now is over 30 feet tall with a conical shape and rounded crown.
Callery pear trees produce five-petaled white flowers three-quarters to one-inch in diameter. The fruit are inedible and very small at less than a centimeter wide. In summer the foliage is dark green and very smooth.
The seedling program was launched in 2013, with seedlings distributed to cities throughout the world. The Palm Coast tree was tagged “No. 725.” Juliano said.
“It's amazing they’ve been able to do so many,” he said.
Juliano was 16 and living in Westchester County, north of New York City, at the time of the attacks.
“I knew people that were killed in the World Trade Center," he said. "One of the people killed that day was one of our town councilmen. I saw him that Sunday talking at a street festival in our town, and he died that Tuesday. If you grew up in that area you knew not just one family but multiple families that were affected by the tragedy.”
The ceremony will include 9/11 survivors and first responders who will dedicate the Palm Coast seedling.
“I’m sure in a couple of years it will grow up into something nice,” Juliano said. “It will be a living reminder.”