Survivor Trees: Oklahoma’s Survivor Tree
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In 1995, a truck bomb went off in Oklahoma City, tearing through the Murrah Federal Building. 168 people were killed, 800 more were injured. And in the parking lot, stood another victim– an American Elm tree.
Survivor Tree, 1995 (Photo by NASA’s Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team)
The tree weathered the nearby blast of a 4,000 pound bomb. It also made it through the investigation– It was nearly cut down so that evidence could be retrieved from its branches and trunks. It was spared and quickly the tree became a symbol of strength and resilience.
The fact that the tree survived the bomb blast that killed so many transformed it from a mere tree to a talisman for the comfort of all who survived.
It seems to proclaim to all who enter the hallowed site and will pause a moment to listen that the senseless act of destruction perpetrated by the few will not be the final word. The very fibers of its bole seem to radiate hope for the future just as a lighthouse sends its light into the dark night.
–University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, May 16, 2000
Today the tree is known as the Survivor Tree and is a key part of the Oklahoma City National Memorial. A sign at the base of the tree reads, “The spirit of this city and this nation will not be defeated; our deeply rooted faith sustains us.”
Survivor Tree, 2008 (Photo by amacemon)
Derivatives of the Survivor Tree have spread. A clone of the Survivor Tree stands in Rose State College, which lost 17 of its graduates in the attack. Survivor Tree seedlings are also available for purchase from the American Forest’s Historic Tree program. When the Survivor Tree’s time does finally come, its genes and its spirit will surely continue on.