Survivor Tree

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Survivor Tree
The Survivor Tree at the Oklahoma City National Memorial.jpg
The tree in 2004
Survivor Tree is located in Oklahoma
Survivor Tree
Survivor Tree
Coordinates35°28′24″N 97°31′00″W / 35.4733°N 97.51672°W / 35.4733; -97.51672Coordinates: 35°28′24″N 97°31′00″W / 35.4733°N 97.51672°W / 35.4733; -97.51672

The Survivor Tree is an American elm which survived the Oklahoma City bombing (1995) and lives on the north side of the Oklahoma City National Memorial, in the U.S. state of Oklahoma.

Description and history[edit]

This was the only shade tree in the parking lot across the street from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Commuters arrived early to get one of the shady parking spots provided by its branches. Photos of Oklahoma City taken in the 1920s show the tree to be about 100 years old (in the year 2000).[1] Heavily damaged by the bomb, the tree survived after nearly being chopped down during the initial investigation, when workers wanted to recover evidence hanging in its branches and embedded in its bark.[2]

The force of the blast ripped most of the branches from the Survivor Tree. Glass and debris were embedded in its trunk and fire from the cars parked beneath it blackened what was left. Most thought the tree could not survive. Almost a year after the bombing, family members, survivors, and rescue workers gathered for a memorial ceremony by the tree, noticed it was beginning to bloom again. The Survivor Tree now thrives, and the Outdoor Memorial design includes a mandate to feature and protect the tree. For example, one of the roots that would have been cut by the wall surrounding the tree was placed inside a large pipe so it could reach the soil beyond the wall without being damaged. The decking around the tree was raised several feet to make an underground crawlspace; workers enter through a secure hatchway and monitor the health of the tree and maintain its very deep roots.[3][2]

The inscription around the inside of the deck wall around the Survivor Tree reads:

"The spirit of this city and this nation will not be defeated; our deeply rooted faith sustains us."

Hundreds of seeds from the Survivor Tree are planted annually and the resulting saplings are distributed each year on the anniversary of the bombing. Thousands of Survivor Trees are growing in public and private places all over the United States.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. "Survivor Tree (American Elm) Plant of the Week". Archived from the original on 2014-12-10. Retrieved 2014-12-07.
  2. ^ a b c Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. "Survivor Tree". Archived from the original on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2010-04-10.
  3. ^ National Park Service. "Frequently Asked Questions". Archived from the original on 2017-04-21. Retrieved 2011-04-10.

External links[edit]