September 9, 2011

Reflections on 9/11, the 10th Anniversary

As we approach the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on the day that forever changed America. It's one of those events where you will always remember exactly what you were doing when you heard. I remember how my Mom always tells me she will never forget what she was doing when she heard that JFK was assassinated. I think 9/11 is that kind of event for a whole generation of Americans. I was a junior in high school at the time and I think we were on our 10 minute break between classes that happened in the morning. I remember walking into my math teacher's classroom and seeing the Twin Towers on the TV. I don't think I even grasped what was going on. Who could?

Besides the obvious sense of shock and horror at what was going on, what really sticks with me the most is how in the coming hours, days and months the country pulled together like I have never witnessed before. It seemed like sense of community, helping one another and pride in America was at an all time high. That was such an amazing outcome to the acts of destruction and one I'm sure the terrorists never expected. I remember the chants of "USA, USA" and people lining streets to cheer on and encourage fire fighters and first responders.

2,997 flags, one for each person who died in the attacks, via
I've been watching a lot of 9/11 specials on TV, my favorite has been the series produced by Steven Spielberg, Rising: Rebuilding America. Have you guys heard of this one? It's a 6-part series, each episode talks about a different aspect of the memorial from building the museum and the new towers to how the people working on this project are connected to 9/11, it's fascinating and brings me to tears each time. A few of the things I've learned from the show...

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The Survivor Tree
Have you heard about the survivor tree? I love this story. They say that the survivor tree was the last living thing pulled from the rubble of Ground Zero. It was not even found until weeks after the attacks. When they did find it, most of it's branches had been crushed by the towers and it's trunk scarred, but someone decided they should try to save it.

It was moved to a nursery in the outskirts of NYC and amazingly nursed back to health. One of the project managers at the memorial, Ron Vega, made it his personal mission to make sure the tree had a special place on the site. He was a first responder to the scene on 9/11 and must have felt a special connection to the tree. He is profiled in Rising and it is such a moving story. The survivor tree was brought back to the 9/11 Memorial site in December of 2010 and is now thriving in a prominent spot at the site. I watched the tree being brought back in on the special, it was such a triumph to see it return to the site.

Arriving at the site, almost 10 years later. Via
On the show everyone talked about how the survivor tree symbolizes the resiliency of the human spirit and rebirth. How fitting for the 9/11 memorial site.

The survivor tree blooms at the site, photo by Amy Dreher, via
I can't think of a better sign of hope...

Gorgeous pictures taken by the 9/11 memorial photographer, Amy Dreher
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Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero will air in it's entirety on Sunday, September 11th beginning at 5PM EST on Science. You can learn more about the series here.

To learn more about the 9/11 Memorial site where the survivor tree is housed visit here.

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