Stand Proud

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Today is the anniversary of September 11th. A day that took the lives of 3,000 people after two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City.

I’m sure you can remember exactly what you were doing that day – where you were when you heard, what you did after, how you felt, who you wanted to call – Everything. 9/11 brings back the smells, the sounds, the feelings of that exact day – and it was over 11 years ago. It’s astonishing really, I mean sometimes I can’t even remember what I ate for breakfast a few days ago,let alone what street I lived on 11 years ago. But that day took something away from Americans – our innocence, or maybe our belief that we’d always be okay. That day will always be ingrained in our heads.

Every year on 9/11 we remember the victims, the families, the workers, the rescuers – everyone who suffered.

But we also remember where we were, who we were with, and what we were doing when we heard of the horrific news.

So as I’m reading all of the heroic and sad stories today I keep reading mentions of the “Survivor Tree” and then I realized why it sounded so familiar to me – I saw that tree when I was at Ground Zero 2 years ago and I took a picture of it, not really knowing the story behind it.

It’s a medium sized pear tree that was discovered among the rubble, and horrific sight of the aftermath of the morning we’d all never forget. Workers rescued it, freed it from all of the death around it and managed to bring it back to life – it’s limbs, roots and trunk slowly healing and flourishing back into life.

The obvious decision was to re-plant the tree at Ground Zero – maybe as a symbol of hope, or one of strength, maybe as a place of rememberance – not knowing whether or not it would survive.

This year at the start of spring that same broken, hopeless and lifeless tree started to miraculously blossom. And not only did it blossom – it flourished. It now rises taller, higher and prouder than all of the other trees in the Memorial Plaza at the World Trade Center.

Yes, a tree can be prouder.

Just like this tree, I feel that we have each had a smiliar story – maybe the anniversary of 9/11 reminds you of someone you once were, a place you once lived – a story you once told yourself.

You most likely have come a long way in the past 11 years – like me.

Just like this tree, each of us have risen up against all odds, have needed to lean on someone, or be leaned on, and have ultimately stood proud.

11 years ago I was someone completely different than I am today, and I am so much prouder of that.

While all other trees at this Memorial site die and shed dead leaves earlier and faster, this Surivor Tree grows –  a renewed life after an unimaginable loss.

Sometimes we all need a tree like this to remind us of our own inner strength, and to remind us that it’s okay to lean on others to help bring you back to the beautiful, proud tree you were always meant to be.

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