The Survivor Tree ~ Remembering April 19, 1995

Today should probably be a silent day, out of honor and respect to each person lost and so many touched by the terrorism that occurred in the heartland of Oklahoma.  April 19, 1995.  I have no words of wisdom.  There is nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said.  It is simply a day of reflection. Of grieving hearts. Of questions that will never be answered.

My thoughts now go to the tree.  The Survivor Tree.  An old elm in downtown Oklahoma City. It witnessed everything.  It endured the blast.  And because of the love and care from those who surrounded it, it still stands tall. Kinda like Oklahoma. ♥

Witness to Tragedy, Survivor Tree:   Symbol of Strength


“It is more than 80 years old. An American Elm Tree in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City, it survived the bomb’s blast and witnessed one of the worst terrorist attacks on American soil. Today, we call it the Survivor Tree.

Before the bombing, the tree was important because it provided the only shade in the downtown parking lot. People would arrive early to work just to be able to park under the shade of the tree’s branches.

On April 19, 1995, the tree was almost chopped down to recover pieces of evidences that hung from its branches due to the force of the 4,000 pound bomb that killed 168 and injured hundreds just yards away. Evidence was retrieved from the branches and the trunk of the tree.

When hundreds of community citizens, family members of those who were killed, survivors and rescue workers came together to write the Memorial Mission Statement, one of its resolutions dictated that “one of the components of the Memorial must be the Survivor Tree located on the south half of the Journal Record Building block.”

The Memorial design was unveiled in 1996 with a prominence put on this ancient elm.

The final Memorial design included this important promontory. Because the roots of the tree ran so deep, the promontory was put on piers so that there would be no damage to the tree’s root system. Each pier was hand dug by Bays and the construction crew. The design also included an aeration and irrigation system underneath the promontory, which permits the air and water to get underneath the tree’s roots. This state of the art system allows the tree to receive the appropriate amount of water and air to keep it growing for years to come.

Cuttings of the Survivor Tree are growing in nurseries all over Oklahoma. Owners of landscape nurseries, arborists, urban foresters and expert horticulturists from across the state and country have come together to work and preserve this piece of history. None of these people have ever charged the Memorial for their work. Each year, the Facilities and Grounds crew at the Memorial provides Bays and the nursery men hundreds of seeds. They plant the seeds and distribute the resulting saplings each year on the anniversary of the bombing. Today, thousands of Survivor Trees are growing in public and private places all over the United States.

“The Memorial is grateful to Mark Bays, and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry for their long-standing commitment to the Survivor Tree,” said Kari Watkins, Executive Director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial. “The tree is a beautiful symbol today thanks to Mark’s work and those he has reached out to across the state, who take seeds and return tree saplings the following spring.”

The Survivor Tree is a symbol of human resilience. Today, as a tribute to renewal and rebirth, the inscription around the tree reads, “The spirit of this city and this nation will not be defeated; our deeply rooted faith sustains us.” “

Be nice to each other,  friends, we never know what the other may be going through ~ ♥

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11 Responses to The Survivor Tree ~ Remembering April 19, 1995

  1. Dottie says:

    Paula, you have pretty much said it all!! It is a day none of us will and shouldn’t ever forget!! So many lives were affected!! This should be day of remembrance for all of us~~~

  2. I sure remember watching this horrible day on T.V. Hopefully, this old Elm Tree is not only a symbol of the strength of the Oklahoma people, but a reminder that our whole nation needs that kind of strength in these days of unrest all over the world. God Bless All of Us!

  3. Beautifully said. I did not know about the cutting and seedlings from the Survivor Tree, that is really neat.

  4. Pingback: faith, fear, and courage « power of language blog: partnering with reality by JR Fibonacci

  5. Pingback: courage, faith, fear, hope, and beliefs « power of language blog: partnering with reality by JR Fibonacci

  6. Pingback: Oklahoma City National Memorial | stuff i tell my sister

  7. Reblogged this on stuff i tell my sister and commented:

    We will never forget….

  8. That was a terrible thing.

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