Nearly two decades after the horrific Sept. 11 attacks, a piece of the tragic day’s history will reside in Bayside Hills for generations to come.
The agricultural program at John Bowne High School in Flushing donated a sapling from the Survivor Tree, which Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and the Bayside Hills Civic Association (BHCA) planted at the Bayside Hills 9/11 Memorial on Bell Boulevard. The newly planted tree is a second-generation sapling that grew out of a tree pulled out of the World Trade Center rubble in 2001.
“As a symbol of resilience, this new sapling will serve as a living memorial for the victims of September 11th and commemorate the continued heroism of our first responders,” said Rozic. “It will be a long-lasting memorial of the sacrifice on that fateful day and a very meaningful addition to our community. I am honored to join the Bayside Hills Civic Association in planting this sapling and thank Michael Feiner and Ronald Keil for their efforts.”
During the recovery effort in October 2001, the cleanup crew noticed the remains of a Callery pear tree that had survived the attacks. The city placed the tree, which had snapped roots and burned and broken branches, under the care of the NYC Parks Department. Parks subsequently transferred the tree to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx for rehabilitation.
In 2010, the agency returned the pear tree to the 9/11 Memorial site where the newly grown, smooth limbs became of symbol of “resilience, survival and rebirth.”
“Thank you Assemblywoman Rozic and John Bowne High School for the sensational addition to our community. It is for moments such as this that it is so wonderful to be involved in local civics and live in this neighborhood. Thanks also to Ronald and Richard Keil who planted the sapling and our Bayside Hills Civic Association Board members,” said Michael Feiner, BHCA president.
In 2013, John Bowne High School started the Survivor Tree Seedling Program in partnership with Bartlett Tree Experts. Since its inception, the 9/11 Memorial has given seedlings from the original Survivor Tree to three communities who have endured their own tragedies.
This year, the program distributed seedlings to Las Vegas in memory of the 2017 Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting; to Pittsburgh in memory of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting ; and to Greece, where 2018 wildfires killed and injured hundreds of people.
Other communities who received Survivor Tree seedlings throughout the years include Sandy Hook, Conn., survivors of superstorm Sandy in the Rockaways and Parkland, Fla.
“The 9/11 Survivor tree is a symbol of strength, resilience, and perseverance. We are glad that the tree is staying within the NYC and Queens communities and will always remind us of those qualities as it continues to grow throughout the years. We are proud to be the caretakers of these trees and will never forget their story and what they represent,” said Patrycja Zbrzezny, assistant principal at John Bowne High School.