For more than 20 years, a Callery Pear Tree lived on the World Trade Center Plaza in New York City.
Fifteen years ago, on September 11, 2001, the Twin Towers collapsed onto her, covering her in debris.
The tree lay under the smoking rubble for a month. Then, one day, some of the workers at the site spotted a few of her green leaves showing through the gray concrete and ash.
Just like our country, the tree was scared, sad, and in shock. But over time, and with great care, she recovered and stands taller and stronger.
In her book, The Survivor Tree: Inspired by a True Story, Vienna author Cheryl Somers Aubin tells the story of the 9/11 survivor tree and takes the reader on a journey of hope and healing that parallels our nation's own journey following the horrors of September 11, 2001. Based on the story of the real-life 9/11 Survivor Tree, this story imaginatively describes the experiences, memories, and feelings of the tree throughout her healing and eventual return home.
“I saw a newspaper article about the tree being re-planted at the 9/11 memorial and I contacted the nursery where it was recovering,” Aubin said of how the idea to write her book came about.
Aubin says that in October 2001, the once 30-foot-tall tree was discovered at Ground Zero severely injured, with damaged roots and scorched, broken branches. It had been reduced to an eight-foot-tall remnant of its once-self. The tree was removed from the rubble and placed in the care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. After its recovery and rehabilitation, it was returned to the Memorial in 2010.
Today, the tree stands 30+ feet tall again, and also stands as a living reminder of resilience, survival and rebirth… but with visible scars much like the country itself.
“This book is for everyone,” said Aubin. “It’s for children so they can understand about trauma and grief and recovery and healing, and it’s for adults because the tree’s story mirrors what happened to our country.”
According to officials, the 9/11 Memorial gives seedlings from the Survivor Tree every year to three communities that have endured tragedy in recent years. The Survivor Tree seedling program was launched on September 11, 2013 in partnership with Stamford, Conn.-based Bartlett Tree Expert Company and John Bowne High School in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens.
All profits from the sale of Aubin’s book go to charity.
She has been writing and publishing for over twenty years, and her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Boston Globe, Foundation Magazine, and other newspapers, magazines, and online journals. She has a Master of Arts degree in Writing from Johns Hopkins University. More of Aubin’s work can be found on her website www.cherylaubin.com.
The book’s soft but poignant illustrations are done by Sheila Harrington of Washington, DC. Harrington is a painter, illustrator, and graphic designer whose work has ranged from portraiture to print design to museum exhibition graphics. She is a partner with her artist/designer husband, James Symons, in the Washington, DC art and design firm Studio Five. Her work can be seen on its website www.studio5dc.com.
For more information about The Survivor Tree: Inspired by a True Story, or to obtain a copy, go to www.thesurvivortree.com