Rise of Freedom: Bringing Life to Ground Zero – First Trees for Ground Zero Memorial Park Start Journey

August 27, 2010 – 2:30 PM

by: Meredith Orban

On Friday, 10 of the 416 trees destined for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum will begin their journey to Ground Zero.

“Today is D-Day for us.  It’s the magical day,” said Ronaldo Vega, the Director of Design for the 9/11 Memorial.

Vega spoke as workers from Environmental Design, the contractor responsible for the trees, loaded the thirty-foot trees on to forklifts and carefully hoisted them on to flatbeds.

Artist Rendering Ground Zero Memorial Park

The Swamp White Oak trees have been growing in a Millstone Township, New Jersey nursery since 2007.  They’ll make the 60-mile trip up the New Jersey Turnpike, over the George Washington Bridge to the Henry Hudson Parkway and down the west side of Manhattan before they’re planted at the memorial site tomorrow morning.  A total of sixteen will be planted this weekend.

Artist Rendering of 8 Acre Memorial Park At Ground Zero

After the September 11th attacks, Vega was one of the managers of the recovery and rescue effort at Ground Zero.

“It was a mass grave,” he said, “We’re going to turn it into a place where living things are and where future generations can enjoy life and remember. They’ll always remember what took place there.”Vega says the trees are symbolic in many ways.

“They speak of rebirth, how they die and come back every season.  They breathe just like we do,” he said.

The selection process was significant as well.

“The trees were harvested from the states where the attacks took place.  So, even the trees speak of the trauma that took place on 9/11.”

Trauma aside, Vega says this is a day of hope.  This is, “the first life on the plaza.  This is it.  This means we’ve come back… That’s what these trees represent. They’re the bridge between that horrible day and our rebirth.”


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One Response

  1. This is beautiful. I’m from Alabama and I remember the day it happened. I was at the age four. We lived in an apartment and my two sisters were at school. It was just me and my mom. She made me sit down with her on the sofa and watch the news. I didn’t know what was really going on, but she was upset, so like any other four year old, I was too. She cried so I cried. I didn’t get it.

    Today, 11 years older, still young, I understand. I watch youtube videos and listen to recorded call, read books, and look up articles about it. I’m completely fascinated by it all. I get emotional when I think about how many lives were lost that day, how many little girls and boys weren’t going to see their mommys or daddys that night. I can’t imagine going through something like that. I’m proud to be an American.

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